Lok Sabha Okays Bill To Amend RTI Act

The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a Bill after division that allows the Central government to notify the term of office for the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) with the Opposition slamming the measure as diluting the provisions.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed with 218 members voting in its favour and 79 against it after a reply by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Jitendra Singh.

Opposition members strongly criticised the Bill, saying it seeks to dilute the RTI Act 2005 and encroaches on the power of states and demanded its withdrawal.

The 2005 Act was enacted during the first Congress-led government UPA government and the alliance’s chairperson Sonia Gandhi sat through the debate.

Replying to ta spirited debate, Singh said that opposition leaders should not make any assumptions about the salary and terms of appointments of CIC and ICs as the Bill only states that terms and conditions will be specified by the government and these had not been deliberated upon.

“As far as the Modi government is concerned, there is nothing to hide. It is committed to full transparency and accountability,” he said.

The minister said it had done away with the need for attestations as also interviews for certain category of jobs to promote transparency and accountability.

Singh said that information was being furnished by various departments on their own and orders were uploaded on websites.

Replying to the opposition members over the vacancies in the Information Commission during the previous NDA government, he said that there were more vacancies when the UPA was in power.

“I am not blaming the government. It was a muti-factorial outcome,” Singh said, adding that pendency of cases was now less than what it was in 2014.

While moving the Bill for passage, Singh earlier said that the amendment bill seeks to streamline and institutionalise the functioning of Information Commission and “remove some of the anomalies”.

The minister said the CIC’s status is regarded at par with that of Chief Election Commissioner which, in other words, becomes equal to that of the Chief Justice of India.

Singh said that there were a number of judgments and recommendations including that from the second administrative reforms commission which suggested that “such anomalies should be done away with”.


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