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Government notifies new RTI rules

The government on Thursday notified new rules under the Right to Information Act that reduced the tenure of information commissioners from five years to three.

The Right to Information (Term of Office, Salaries, Allowances and Other Terms and Conditions of Service of Chief Information Commissioner, Information Commissioners in the Central Information Commission, State Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioners in the State Information Commission) Rules, 2019 notified by the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions set the tenure of information commissioners at three years and gave the government the discretion to decide on “conditions of service” for which no express provisions are made in the rules.

The Chief Information Commissioner’s salary has been fixed at Rs. 2.5 lakh and an information commissioner’s at Rs. 2.25 lakh.

Activist Anjali Bharadwaj of the Satark Nagrik Sangathan said the rules had been drafted in a “completely surreptitious manner in flagrant violation of the procedures laid down in the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy of 2014. The policy requires all draft rules to be placed in the public domain for comments/suggestions of people. The draft was not available in the public domain and no consultations were held with members of the public.”

Among the new rules, the government had been given the “power to relax” the provisions of the rules, raising “serious concerns that the government could potentially invoke these powers to determine different tenures for different commissioners at the time of appointment,” she said.

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