The Indian government launched its online right to information portal in April this year. It’s aimed at simplifying the whole process. It only costs Rs 10 if you are above poverty line and is free if you are below poverty line. The workflow is easy and nearly 24 departments and ministries are on it already. To file an RTI, all you need to do is to register on www.rtionline.gov.in and follow the instructions.
However, there are a couple of things the government agency must fix.
What strikes you at first is that the site makes you type in security captchas a few times more than necessary. The design is quite simple but serves the purpose. It makes you read and accept a long list of guidelines every time you want to submit a new application. This should ideally be a one time process.
There are only limited payment options on the site. For internet payment, one can use one of the six State Banks listed on the site whereas private banks such as HDFC and ICICI aren’t listed. It only supports debit/ ATM cards issued by the State Bank of India and doesn’t support any credit cards yet. This is a serious drawback.
Another drawback is that there is no way to complain or get your money back if the transaction fails. We tried it a couple of times here and lost Rs 20. It’s been more than 48 hours. No sign of refunds or acknowledgements yet and you can’t find a place on the website to to raise a refund request or a complaint.
Others Online RTI Websites
The government’s move is likely to impact most of the online RTI websites that have come up recently. Mainly because of the steep price difference between them and the government portal. For instance, websites such as Rtination charge Rs 150 per application because it costs them to send the RTI on post, pay payment gateway charges and other overheads. Onlinerti.com charges Rs 75 per request.
For people wanting to file RTI applications from overseas, the government website is not a good idea because of limited payment options. Private services like Rtination have better payment options. Onlinerti uses Instamojo for payments.
With third party websites, there is too much logistics involved. For instance, some sites send you a hard copy of the filed RTI application form which you need to sign and return the signed copy.