RTI Amendment Bill passed

NEW DELHI: A bill proposing to give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday amid strong objection from the Opposition.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed after division of votes with 178 members favouring it and 79 against it.
The Bill amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. Section 13 had set the term of the central CIC and Information Commissioners at five years, or until the age of 65, whichever was earlier.
The opposition argued that the Bill will take away the independence of the RTI authorities.
Moving the bill, which was tabled in the house on July 19, for passage, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh said that the current tenure for both the CIC and ICs is five years but the Bill seeks to remove this provision and give the Central government the power to notify the terms of office.
“The salary for the CIC will be the same as Chief Election Commissioner. But the bill seeks to change this and allows the government to fix the salary,” he said.
Initiating the debate, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor strongly objected to the Bill and sought its withdrawal.
Terming the Bill a “deliberate” attempt to “weaken” the RTI framework and erode the independence of the CIC and Information Commissioners, he argued that it was brought to Parliament without any public debate on its contents and that it is a deliberate architectural change to roll back gains of the RTI, restrict its independence, and regressively reinforce power equations. — IANS