NEW DELHI: The Delhi High Court Friday sought a response from the Centre on an NGO’s plea seeking clarification from the central government on whether Non-Resident Indians (NRIs) can make use of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
A bench of Chief Justice Rajendra Menon and Justice V K Rao issued a notice to the ministries of External Affairs as well as Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions and sought their stand on the PIL which said that NRIs being citizens of the country cannot be barred from seeking information under the RTI Act.
The court asked the Centre to indicate its stand before the next date of hearing on April 9.
The NGO, Pravasi Legal Cell, has moved the high court in view of a statement made in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions Jitendra Singh that NRIs were not eligible to file queries under the RTI Act.
The statement by the minister on August 8, 2018 was later corrected by the government, which said that NRIs can file RTI applications to seek governance-related information.
The NGO, in its plea filed through advocate Jose Abraham, has said that it had sent a memorandum to the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions to take steps to ensure that NRIs too were allowed to file queries under the RTI Act, but till date no response has been received and therefore, it was forced to approach the court.
The petition has contended that the statement made by the minister was in contravention of the provisions of the RTI Act.
It said that the government in March 2013 had launched a service called Electronic Indian Postal Order (eIPO), enabling NRIs to file applications under the RTI Act from across the world via direct payment of fees.
However, in August 2018, the minister had said that NRIs are not eligible to seek information under RTI, the petition said, adding that it led to “confusion in the minds of Indian citizens living abroad”.
The NGO has contended that every Indian citizen is eligible to use the RTI Act and NRIs are also citizens of the country.