NEW DELHI: As criticism over the proposed amendments to the RTI Act mounts, the government did not introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha on Thursday—though it was in the list of business for the day—after the Opposition parties appealed to send it to the select committee.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill empowers the Central government to decide the tenure and salary and allowances of Information Commissioners of the Central Information Commission and also of State Information Commissions through rules.
Opposing the move, Congress president Rahul Gandhi said the changes proposed to the RTI will make it a useless Act.
“Every Indian has the right to know the truth. The BJP believes the truth must be hidden from the people and they must not question people in power. The changes proposed to the RTI will make it a useless Act. They must be opposed by every Indian,” he tweeted Thursday.
The Opposition took up the matter during the Business Advisory Committee meeting chaired by Rajya Sabha Chairperson Venkaiah Naidu.
“The Opposition unanimously told the government that the Bill should not be introduced in the House as the proposed amendments need to be reviewed. We wanted the Bill be sent to select committee but the government is yet to agree to it,” said a senior Opposition leader.
At present, the pay and perks, as well as other terms and conditions of service of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), is on a par with that of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC). The new Bill, if passed, will change that.
Meanwhile, the Rajya Sabha passed the Prevention of Corruption (Amendment) Bill, 2013 to make bribing a public servant an offence. The Bill has specific provisions related to giving a bribe to a public servant, and by a commercial organisation.
During the discussion, the Opposition accused the government of double standards on checking corruption saying it had failed to set up Lokpal and did not bring the Whistleblowers Protection (Amendment) Bill, 2015.
Initiating the debate, senior Congress leader Anand Sharma said: "Can there be two system in the country, one for the opposition and another for your own people? The government doesn’t work like this."