‘Diluting RTI Act to impact daily fight against corruption’

A group of people protest the proposed changes in the Right to Information Act. | File

A group of people protest the proposed changes in the Right to Information Act. | File   | Photo Credit: Shiv Kumar Pushpakar

Group of residents take to the streets against proposed amendment to the law

As Lok Sabha MPs debated the Right to Information Act (Amendment) Bill on Monday, a small group of people — mostly women — for whom the Act is a lifeline, took to the streets less than a km away to protest the proposed changes.

Critics said the amendments to give the Centre power to set the tenure and salary of Information Commissioners will compromise their autonomy and independence.

Having marched from Jantar Mantar to Constitution Club, women, accompanied by a sprinkling of activists from the RTI, Right to Food and Land Rights Movements, settled down to a jan manch of leaders denouncing the Bill.

“The UPA brought in laws to promote transparency and expose corruption, such as the RTI Act and the whistleblowers law. But this government is only interested in weakening and diluting these laws,” said Congress MP Rajeev Gowda.

RJD MP Manoj Jha said the amendments would kill the spirit of the RTI Act and emphasised the importance of a strong people’s resistance against the Bill. He vowed to oppose the Bill in the Rajya Sabha and send it to the Parliamentary Standing Committee for further discussion. As the Lok Sabha passed the Bill on Monday, the ball is now in the court of the Upper House.

Other politicians who spoke included AAP’s Sanjay Singh, SP’s Ghanshyam Tiwari and D. Raja of the CPI.

“The government has repeatedly said that it wants to establish a corruption-free society. However, if they really want to do this, what is the need to amend the RTI Act?” asked former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah.

“It may seem like a technical issue — debating the salary and tenures of officials — but I think it is important to recognise that this is people’s issue. To expose daily corruption through the RTI Act, it is important that people can trust the independence of the information commissions,” said Anjali Bhardwaj, co-convener of the national campaign for People’s Right to Information.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 9:51:22 PM |

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