Sakina Tashrifwala

Published on: September 25, 2022 at 18:09 IST

The court presided by Justice Dhananjaya Y. Chandrachud disclosed the continuing work to establish the RTI site while hearing a public information lawsuit demanding an online filing system for RTI requests.

The Supreme Court will soon establish an online Right To Information (RTI) gateway to make it easier for citizens to obtain information about the highest court, which is designated as a public body under the openness legislation.

On Friday, a bench led by Justice DY Chandrachud disclosed the continuing effort to put up the RTI portal while hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking an online filing system for RTI petitions.

Currently, RTI petitions to the Supreme Court must be submitted via mail.

“We’re looking into it” (the portal). This is almost finished. It’s really valuable,” the bench, which also comprised Justice Hima Kohli, told attorney Prashant Bhushan.

Bhushan was arguing on behalf of two law students who requested that the Supreme Court establish an online RTI portal since it is a public authority under the RTI Act.

As soon as Bhushan began his arguments, Justice Chandrachud noted that the project was already underway. “Let us resume it in four or six weeks. The gateway is nearly complete. Because I’m also on the e-committee, the high courts can follow suit,” noted the judge, who raised the issue in November.”

Justice Chandrachud is also the chairperson of the e-committee, which works to promote the use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) in the Indian legal system. One of the e-primary committee’s goals is to automate operations, making information more accessible to its stakeholders.

According to the petition submitted by law students Akriti Agarwal and Lakshya Purohit, the e-committee has already established an effective system for e-filing of petitions but does not provide the same facility for e-filing of RTI applications.

The petition, filed by advocate Neha Rathi, emphasised that the e-committee and the National Informatics Centre, which are in charge of assisting public authorities with the digitization of citizen-centric services, share a joint responsibility with citizens to make the justice system cost-effective and easily accessible.

While the Union of India has been successfully running its online RTI portal ( for all central ministries and departments, the petition expressed regret that the Supreme Court has not created such a portal since the passage of the 2005 RTI Act, despite being defined as a “public authority” under Section 2(h) of the Act.

The petition referenced a 2019 Supreme Court judgement in Pravasi Legal Cell Vs. Union of India & Ors., in which the court issued a notice to the Centre and states on a petition to develop RTI websites to allow individuals, particularly those residing overseas, to file RTI queries online.

As a result, the petition contended that the e-committee is required by law to establish such a gateway for the Supreme Court in order to defend citizens’ basic right to know and access to justice.

It was also said that the gateway will help to reduce the environmental effect by significantly reducing paper consumption.

The Supreme Court announced in a 2019 decision that the office of the Chief Justice of India will be covered by the purview of the legislation, calling it “undebatable” that the supreme court is a public entity under the RTI Act.

The Court held that, “The Supreme Court of India, which is a ‘public authority’, would necessarily include the office of the Chief Justice of India and the judges in view of Article 124 of the Constitution.”

“The office of the Chief Justice or for that matter the judges is not separate from the Supreme Court, and is part and parcel of the Supreme Court as a body, authority and institution,”

Article 124 stipulates that there shall be a Supreme Court of India consisting of a Chief Justice of India and other judges.

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