Rahul Gandhi says government diluting RTI to help the corrupt
New Delhi, July 27: Congress leader Rahul Gandhi alleged on Saturday that the Modi government is "diluting" the RTI Act to "help the corrupt steal from India", days after amendments to the legislation were passed by Parliament amid strong opposition protests.
While the Lok Sabha passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 on Monday, the Rajya Sabha gave its approval on Thursday after opposition walkout over what it said was "intimidation" tactics by treasury benches to influence voting on the motion to send the Bill to a Select Committee for greater scrutiny.
"Government is diluting RTI in order to help the corrupt steal from India. Strange that the normally vociferous anti-corruption crowd has suddenly disappeared," Gandhi said in a tweet, using the hashtag "GovtMurdersRTI".
His remarks come after UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi alleged that the Modi government is "hell-bent on completely subverting" the RTI Act and wants to "destroy" the independence of the Central Information Commission. The Congress Parliamentary Party leader, in a statement, had said the law, prepared after widespread consultations and passed unanimously by Parliament, now stands at the "brink of extinction".
The RTI Act, which was passed by Parliament on June 15, 2005 and came into force on October 13, 2005, sets out a regime that allows citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
The new legislation seeks to give the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information commissioners. In the original Act, the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) was paid as much as the Chief Election Commissioner and the Information Commissioners were paid as much as Election Commissioners.
Information commissioners earlier had a tenure of five years or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier. Rejecting the opposition's charge that the Bill will weaken the RTI Act, the government has said it was fully committed to transparency and autonomy of the institution.