Amendments Will Make RTI Act A ‘Toothless Tiger’, Says Opposition
The opposition on Monday slammed the government in Lok Sabha over the provisions of a bill to amend the Right to Information Act, alleging it has been brought to undermine the law and make the transparency panel a "toothless tiger" like the National Human Rights Commission.
Rejecting the criticism that the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is intended to weaken the Act, the government said the opposition is misguiding the people as the proposed changes are only aimed at streamlining functioning.
Leading the opposition charge during the debate on the Bill, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that under the proposed changes the government can hire and fire independent information commissioners. "It is not Amendment bill but elimination bill," he said.
The Act was a monumental achievement for the country's democracy, and it challenged the vested interests of the government, the former union minister said. He questioned why the bill has been brought "without any public consultation".
"Why is the government desperate to rush through the bill? Is it because the Central Information Commission delivered an order on the Prime Minister's educational detail," Tharoor asked.
He noted the four posts of information commissioners are lying vacant in CIC. "The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a deliberate attempt to undermine the Act and make it toothless tiger like National Human Rights Commission," Tharoor alleged.
Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh said that the opposition is "misguiding" the people by saying that the government wants to weaken the Act by bringing the bill.
"From the beginning of its first term in 2014, the Modi government has brought transparency in governance for greater public participation," Singh said. "I urge the opposition to support the amendment to the Act, so that we can streamline the functioning of Act and remove anomalies," he added.
A Raja (DMK) said due to the proposed amendments, the Information Commissioner is going to be a "house maid" (of the government). Jagdambika Pal (BJP) said that the government wants to make the Act more effective.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to give the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information commissioners.