Opposition parties have come together to resist the Narendra Modi-led government’s move to amend the Right to Information Act. Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to the Lok Sabha on Wednesday that a notice of intention had been given in the Rajya Sabha to introduce the Right to Information Act (Amendment) Bill, 2018, PTI reported.
The government plans to introduce the bill during the ongoing Monsoon Session of Parliament. According to the proposed amendments, the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of the chief information commissioner and other information commissioners “shall be such as may be prescribed by the central government”, PTI reported. The tenure of the chief information commissioner and other information commissioners will be set by the government, instead of the fixed five-year term they get at present.
RTI activists contend that this would weaken the act by giving the Centre more powers over information commissioners. It would also remove their parity with election commissioners.
On Wednesday, Communnist Party of India (Marxist) leader Sitaram Yechury said the RTI Act came into existence because of the “people’s struggle” and that his party would work both within and outside Parliament to ensure that no amendment was made to it, PTI reported. He was addressing a meeting organised by the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information.
Congress spokesperson Rajeev Gowda claimed that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led government was “destroying” institutions and legislations of transparency and accountability in the country.
The meeting was also attended by Communist Party of India leaders D Raja and Atul Kumar Anjan, Rashtriya Janata Dal leader Manoj Kumar Jha, Supreme Court lawyer Prashant Bhushan, and Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, who said his party would thwart any move to dilute the RTI Act.
On Thursday, Congress President Rahul Gandhi claimed the BJP wanted the truth to be hidden from people, and that the amendments would make the Act “useless”.