National

RTI Act on the brink of extinction: Sonia Gandhi

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. File

Congress leader Sonia Gandhi. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

Accuses Centre of disempowering every citizen after July 23 amendment

A day after the Lok Sabha passed amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act, Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday accused the Union government of ‘disempowering every Indian citizen.’

“It is a matter of utmost concern that the Central government is hell-bent on completely subverting the historic Right to Information Act, 2005. This law, prepared after widespread consultations and passed unanimously by Parliament, now stands on the brink of extinction,” said Ms. Gandhi in a statement.

Ms. Gandhi, who headed the National Advisory Council during the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance, was involved in those consultations before the law was formally drafted and passed by Parliament.

The Congress leader said over 60 lakh people had benefited from the RTI Act and the law had ushered in a regime of transparency and accountability of administration at all levels.

“The foundation of democracy has, as a result, been strengthened immeasurably. The weaker sections of the society have benefited greatly by the proactive views of the RTI by activists and others,” she said.

Ms. Gandhi alleged that the Central government viewed the Central Information Commission (CIC) as “nuisance and wants to destroy its status and independence” that was on a par with the Central Election Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission.”

“The Central Government may use its legislative majority to achieve its aim but in the process it would be disempowering each and every citizen of our country,” she said.

On Monday, the Lok Sabha amended the RTI Act that allowed the Centre to prescribe the term of office, salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions.

It also changes the status of the Information Commissioners, who were on a par with Election Commissioners as per the original RTI Act.

Currently, Section 13 (5) of the RTI Act provides that salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of the service of the Chief Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of the Chief Election Commissioner while that of an Information Commissioner shall be the same as that of an Election Commissioner.

“The functions being carried out by the Election Commission of India and the Central and State Information Commissions are totally different. The Election Commission of India is a Constitutional body...On the other hand, the Central Information Commission and State Information Commission are statutory bodies established under the Right to Information Act, 2005,” read the amended RTI bill.

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Printable version | Mar 27, 2020 12:05:42 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/rti-act-on-the-brink-of-extinction-sonia-gandhi/article28669033.ece

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