What are the changes in the RTI Act brought about by the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019

What has changed in the RTI Act?

The Bill amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. Section 13 of the original Act sets the term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at five years (or until the age of 65, whichever is earlier). The amendment proposes that the appointment will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. Again, Section 13 states that salaries, allowances and other terms of service of “the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner”, and those of an Information Commissioner “shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner”. The amendment proposes that the salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.

Section 16 of the original Act deals with state-level Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners. It sets the term for state-level CICs and ICs at five years (or 65 years of age, whichever is earlier). The amendment proposes that these appointments should be for “such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. And while the original Act prescribes salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the state Chief Information Commissioner as “the same as that of an Election Commissioner”, and the salaries and other terms of service of the State Information Commissioners as “the same as that of the Chief Secretary to the State Government”, the amendment proposes that these “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.

What is the Government’s defence?

The government maintains that it has not tinkered with autonomy or independence of the central information commission. Minister of State in the Prime Minister's Office Jitendra Singh while introducing the RTI Amendment Bill 2019 in the Lok Sabha on Monday said the Modi government is correcting the anomaly in the RTI law passed by the UPA government.

He said, "Probably, the then government of the day, in a hurry to pass the RTI Act, 2005, overlooked a lot of things. The Central Information Commissioner has been given the status of a Supreme Court judge but his judgments can be challenged in the high courts. How can that exist?"

"The RTI Act did not give the government rule-making powers. We are merely correcting these through the amendment," Singh said.

 

Guest 
on 24 July 2019
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