New Delhi: Union minister Jitendra Singh on Wednesday said that the transparency and citizen-centricity are the hallmark of the Narendra Modi government. Addressing the 15th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission titled, ‘Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav: Citizen – centric Governance through RTI’, the minister said that in the last eight years, every conscious decision was taken to strengthen the independence and resources of the Information Commission. “Empowered citizens are an important pillar of democracy and the Central Information Commission will continue to work for empowering the people through information.” Singh added that RTI Act is not a standalone law. “It is part of the larger narrative of strengthening Indian democracy, ensuring transparency in governance and building capacities of the common citizen to enable him to take informed decisions and choices. It is about nurturing the trust between citizen and the state – where both must have faith in each other.” He said that the government had introduced a 24-hour portal service for e-filing of the RTI applications during any part of the day or night and from any part of the country or abroad. “Technology is harnessed for developing mobile based applications, e-filing, e-hearing, e-notification etc., facilitating the task of information seekers in availing remedies under the law. The mobile app developed by CIC enabled citizens to file appeals with ease, besides using technology for audio video hearing of cases. As a result, the Central Information Commission has succeeded in reducing the pendency from 38116 cases in the year 2020-21 to 23405 cases in the year 2021-22,” the minister added. Singh said that despite the challenges posed by the unprecedented pandemic, earnest efforts were made by CIC and SICs to dispose of RTI second appeals and complaints. “Some Commissions even exceeded pre-Pandemic figures of disposal during certain periods. June 2020 saw higher disposal of cases in CIC in comparison to pre-pandemic year of 2019.” He further said that the Central Information Commission started entertaining, hearing and disposing of RTIs from the newly created Union Territory of Jammu & Kashmir during the challenging times of pandemic in May, 2020 after the passing of J&K Reorganization Act 2019. “Applicants from J&K and Ladakh were allowed to file RTI applications from home and even for appeals to the CIC. The significant change now is that the non-domiciles and non-State subjects of Jammu & Kashmir will also now be entitled to file RTI related to Union Territory issues or agencies,” Singh added.