Outgoing Chief Information Commissioner Radha Krishna Mathur has said that the Centre did not consult the commission on its proposed amendments to the Right to Information Act, The Hindu reported on Friday.
The Right to Information Act 2005, which aims to increase transparency about the government and increase accountability, mandates a timely response to citizen requests for official information. The government has sought to amend the bill that will allow the Centre powers to determine the tenure and salaries of central and state information commissioners. RTI activists have contended that this would weaken the act by giving the Centre more control over information commissioners.
Mathur, who will retire on Saturday, told the newspaper that the proposed amendments were discussed internally in the commission. “But the Commission has chosen not to take a stand on the proposal,” he said, adding that the government had not consulted the central public authority over the amendments. “We were not asked.”
Mathur said bringing down the strength of the commission will impact the work of the commission and increase pendency. He said the act’s biggest challenge would be the matter of privacy. “The world is moving in both directions,” he told the newspaper. “There is an increasing demand for more privacy and more information. We need to find the right balance. There needs to be a public debate.”
Last month, Central Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu had opposed the proposed changes in the act. “The amendments proposed by the central government in the RTI Act, verily mitigate the power of the commission. By amending the existing act, the government is trying to reduce the status and the power of the central information commission,” he had said, according to the Hindustan Times.