LS passes amendment to RTI Act, oppn slams govt

NEW DELHI, Jul 22: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the bill amending the Right to Information (RTI) Act, amid objections by the opposition which alleged that it was an attempt to undermine the law and make the transparency panel a “toothless tiger.”
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, takes away the stature of information commissioners from equivalent of election commissioners, with their salaries and service conditions to be specified by the government.
Rejecting the opposition’s charge that the bill would weaken the RTI Act, the government said
it was fully committed to transparency and autonomy of the institution.
Several members of the opposition, including from the BSP and the TMC, opposed consideration and passage of the bill and called for a division of votes. But they were defeated by 218-79 votes.
After this, the leader of principal opposition party Congress, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, sought a clarification, which was disallowed by the speaker.
Unhappy with this, members of the opposition parties staged a walkout.
The bill was later passed by voice vote.
Leading the opposition charge during the debate on the bill, Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said that under the proposed changes the government could hire and fire independent information commissioners.
“It is not RTI amendment bill RTI elimination bill,” he said. (PTI)