Congress leader Rahul Gandhi has lashed out at the Narendra Modi government for pushing amendments to the Right Information Act through Parliament, accusing it of diluting the transparency law.
The amendments were passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday and in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday. The revised law gives the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information commissioners.
“Government is diluting RTI in order to help the corrupt steal from India,” Gandhi tweeted on Saturday with the hashtag “government murders RTI”. “Strange that the normally vociferous anti-corruption crowd has suddenly disappeared.”
A day after the bill was passed in the Lok Sabha, United Progressive Alliance Chairperson Sonia Gandhi said the law was at the “brink of extinction”.
The bill was passed by a “voice vote” in the Upper House. Most Opposition parties wanted the draft law to be referred to a select committee for scrutiny. However, the proposal regarding that got 117 votes, while 75 MPs voted against it. The Opposition claimed that the proposal was rejected due to intimidation by the government. When the amendent law was passed in the Rajya Sabha, Opposition members staged a walk out.
The Centre has said it is fully committed to transparency and autonomy of the institution. “The independence and autonomy of the information commissions will not be interfered with,” Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh has said.