Other States

Highly improper for Centre to amend RTI Act, says Anna Hazare

Move will weaken democratic institutions, says anti-corruption crusader

It is highly improper on the Centre’s part to try and amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, anti-corruption crusader Anna Hazare said on Tuesday. The government’s introduction of the regressive RTI Amendment Bill was akin to deceiving the people of the country, he said.

Speaking at his residence in Ralegan Siddhi in Ahmednagar district, the octogenarian said the RTI Act was a solid piece of legislation empowering citizens of the country.

He said that while the Narendra Modi government was otherwise doing good work, he failed to understand why the Centre was suddenly bent upon introducing changes to the RTI Act that would only weaken democratic institutions and people’s rights. “Introducing amendments like controlling the appointment of information commissioners will only lead to a dictatorship. I am at a loss to fathom why the RTI amendments were introduced and passed in the Lok Sabha,” Mr. Hazare said. The standing committee, which was constituted at the time of the drafting of the Act, had already taken into consideration all factors pertaining to the status of information commissioners, and no further change was necessary, he said.

He recalled that he had staged a massive ‘Jan Andolan’ (people’s protest rally) on August 9, 2006, in Alandi near Pune to protest against proposed amendments to the RTI Act being considered by the Manmohan Singh-led United Progressive Alliance government.

“Eleven days after I sat on a hunger strike, Dr. Singh, through Prithviraj Chavan, who was then Minister of State for the Prime Minister’s Office, had sent me a written assurance that he would not effect any changes in the RTI Act. So why is the Modi government now taking such a step without taking the people of the country into confidence?” Mr. Hazare said asked. He said he would write to the Prime Minister on the issue and urge him not to bring about any amendments to the RTI Act.

Asked whether he would lead a new agitation against the RTI Amendment Bill, he said he had sat on 19 hunger strikes in the past. “At 82, I am getting on in age and do not have the strength to lead new agitations. However, if the youth and citizens take the lead, I will participate in such a demonstration against the weakening of the RTI Act,” he said.

Activists and former information commissioners across the country have strongly condemned the Modi government’s move to amend the RTI Act, stating it would severely undermine the independence of the Chief Information Commissioner and other information officers.

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Printable version | Feb 29, 2020 12:19:40 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/highly-improper-for-centre-to-amend-rti-act-says-hazare/article28693423.ece

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