The Right to Information section on the websites of the three municipal corporations has been non-functional for over five years. If one tries to file an online RTI through the websites, a message pops up: “Submission of online RTI application has been suspended due to updation of software.”
According to a senior civic body official, the unified MCD was one of the first municipal corporations in the country to start accepting online application for RTI in 2011. Ever since the MCD’s trifurcation in 2012, the facility has become non-functional.
A senior official of the South civic body, which is the nodal agency for IT-related works for all three MCDs, said: “We are in a legal dispute with the vendor who handles IT-related work. This is why it isn’t functioning, but it will be updated soon.” North Mayor Adesh Gupta added, “I always promote the use of technology to make things transparent… it (RTI) will be launched soon.”
According to Section 4 of the RTI Act, it is the “duty of the government to pro-actively make available key information to all”. “Public authorities are to ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated.
“The Central and state governments must necessarily make adequate fiscal allocations for computerisation and connectivity from Information Commission-level to Mandal-level public authorities so as to effectively operationalise the provisions of the RTI Act,” it states.
Hitting out at the civic bodies, Leader of the Opposition in South MCD Praveen Kumar said, “On the one hand, the MCD talks about using technology to minimise corruption. But the most basic tool to minimise corruption hasn’t been working for five years. Is the corporation trying to invent some artificial intelligence software for RTI that it is taking them so long?”
“They simply don’t want it to function because it will lead to more people filing RTIs, exposing their corrupt deals,” he alleged.
Former MCD commissioner K S Mehra, under whose tenure the facility was started, said, “We were the first civic body in the country to start the facility… it is very disappointing to see it not working for so long. Some solution must be found.”
RTI activist Mohit Goel said they can’t stop the facility altogether over a dispute with the company. “If the passport office has issues with the private company that helps them with technology, will they stop issuing passports, that too for over five years?” he said.