Explained: Why opposition crying foul over RTI amendment bill, 2019
New Delhi, July 19: The Lok Sabha on Friday witnessed an uproar over the Right to Information (Amendment) Bil, 2019.
The bill proposes to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005. The ammendment states that term of offices, salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions shall be "as prescribed by the Central Government". The move has been criticised by activists who said it will affect independence and neutrality of the transparency panel.
Today in Lok Sabha, MoS Jitendra Singh moved to introduce amendment in the Right to Information Act, 2005. An uproar erupted in the Lower House immediately after the RTI amendment bill, 2019, was introduced.
It must be recalled that last year the government's efforts to push the bill was stalled in the wake of protests from civil society and opposition parties.
Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, said the bill is not being introduced according to the rules. He claimed that the amendments to the legislation can prove to be dangerous to the fundamental rights of the citizens. He quoted a standing commission report that said that it will undermine and pressurise the Information Commission.
Shashi Tharoor termed it 'RTI elimination Bill'. AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi opposed the bill saying that it lacks competency.Meanwhile, the RTI activists oppose it stating that the Centre's circulating the Bill without any public consultation.
The opposition's main objection is that the amendment proposes to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of state and central Information Commissioners. Critics of the bill dub the amendment as Centre's attempt to get a hold over the salaries, allowance and terms and conditions of service of the chief and other information commissioners in both the Central and State Information Commissions.
In the present form Section 13 (5) of the Right to Information Act provides that the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of the service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner while that of an Information Commissioner shall be same as that of an Election Commissioner.
The amendment circulated by the Government states that the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners have salaries of a Supreme Court Judge which brings Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at par with the apex court judges.