New Delhi: Lok Sabha passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 today.
The Bill, which seeks to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005, proposes to give the Centre decisive power to set salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Information Commissioners at both central and state government levels.
The Amendment Bill also proposes to give the Centre the power to change the period of office of Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioner, and State Information Commissioners, which is currently set at five years.
This means that the tenure of all the information commissioners can be fixed as per the rules framed by the central government.
As per the current RTI Act, salaries and allowances of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are at par with that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners respectively, which have been determined as per the Constitution.
Participating in the debate on the Bill, Union Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Dr. Jitendra Singh said that this Government is fully committed to transparency and accountability. Following this principle, the Government has encouraged suo motu dissemination of maximum information by Government Departments in order to reduce number of RTIs.
In addition to this, the Minister said that the Government is focussing on grievance redressal through citizen involvement. This has strengthened the underlying principle of RTI and has consistently reduced the pendency of RTI applications in the last 5 years, the Minister informed the House.
The Opposition led by Congress MP Sashi Tharoor strongly protested the Bill during the proceedings.
The Congress leader claimed that under the proposed changes the Centre will get the power to hire and fire independent information commissioners.