Amid opposition protest, Lok Sabha passes RTI Amendment Bill
New Delhi, July 22: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amid protest by the opposition. While 218 members voted in favour of the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 79 went against the bill.
The proposed amendment seeks to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of state and central Information Commissioners. The ammendment states that term of offices, salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions shall be "as prescribed by the Central Government".
Describing the law as "clumsy", Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh tabled the RTI (Amendment) Bill, asserting it will lead to ease of delivery of RTI Act. He also described it as an enabling legislation for administration purposes.
The Leader of Congress in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, however, said the bill is a "threat to independence" of Central Information Commissioner. Congress leader Shashi Tharoor had also called it a "RTI elimination bill" as it "removes" the organisations institutional independence.
"It is not an RTI (Amendment) Bill. It is an 'RTI elimination bill'. This bill is removing the two greatest armours of institutional independence and on top of that, by controlling the State Information Commissioners, by taking over the power to determine their salaries, the Central government is destroying it," Shashi Tharoor said.
Kejriwal also strongly opposed the Centre's move to amend the RTI Act, alleging that it will end the independence of central and states information commissions.
Kejriwal, who had actively worked for implementation of the Right to Information Act before coming into politics, said the decision to amend the RTI Act was a "bad move".
"Decision to amend the RTI Act is a bad move. It will end the independence of Central & States Information Commissions, which will be bad for RTI," Kejriwal tweeted.
The move has been criticised by activists who said it will affect independence and neutrality of the transparency panel.