The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the RTI (Amendment) Bill 2019 a voice vote, seeking significant changes to the transparency law amid a walkout by Opposition, who were demanding that it be sent to a Select committee.
The RTI (Amendment) Bill 2019, moved for consideration by Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh, was passed by the Upper House after a motion moved by Derek O Brien of the Trinamool Congress seeking to refer the bill to a select committee was rejected by the House with 75 voting in favour and 117 voting against it.
The voting on the motion happened after the walkout of the Opposition parties, including the Congress, Trinamool Congress and the Left parties in protest against the procedure for distribution of voter slips for the division on the Motion to send the Bill to the select committee.
''The Government wants to treat the Rajya Sabha as a Government department,'' Leader of the opposition in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad said.
He said that his party and other opposition parties were walking out in protest against the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019, which proposes an amendment in the Right to Information Act, 2005 to empower the central government with the right to determine the term, salaries and other terms and conditions of service of the chief information commissioners and information commissioners and the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners.
Hence, the bill will provide the central government with the right to employ, decide the term, allowance and conditions of service of the information officers.
Earlier, replying to a debate on the Bill, Mr Jitendra Singh assured the members that the autonomy of the institution will not be affected.
''This legislation has been brought without any motivation of bad intent. It is designed to strengthen provisions of the RTI Act,'' he said.
He assured the House that the state information commissioners will be appointed by the respective States.
The opposition had raised an uproar in the House earlier on Thursday to demand that the Bill be sent to a Select committee of the upper Hosue.
The Opposition uproar led to several adjournments of the House in the post-lunch session.
The RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019 proposes to amend Sections 13 and 16 of the RTI Act, 2005.
The sections laid down the tenure and salaries of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at both the central and state level.
The RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019, however, proposes that the Central Government will decide the tenure, salaries and allowances of all Information Commissioners.
The Bill has already been passed by the Lok Sabha on July 22.