NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday issued a notice to the Centre on a plea filed by Congress leader Jairam Ramesh challenging amendments made in the Right to Information Act.
After hearing the plea, which alleged that the amendments diluted the powers of the Information Commission, the Bench headed by Chief Justice of India, SA Bobde, said that the court seeks response from the Centre within four weeks.
Last year, the Congress leader had alleged that the government was bringing amendments in the Right to Information Act to take revenge on institutions as it exposes the "false claims" of the government.
Participating in the debate in the Rajya Sabha on the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, Ramesh had cited five reasons behind the government's move to "dilute" the Act. He also raised questions on the timing of bringing the amendments to the Bill which mandates timely response to citizen's requests for government information.
He said between 2003 and 2013, the then Chief Minister of Gujarat (Narendra Modi) was mandated to come to the Planning Commission and the body would ask him uncomfortable questions on the state of health and education in Gujarat.
"In 2014 the CM of Gujarat who became PM of India had his revenge and abolished the Planning Commission. Today, the Prime Minister of India is taking his revenge for these five cases," he said.
The five cases he mentioned to strengthen his case were CIC's order on disclosure of Prime Minister's educational qualification, false claims made by the Prime Minister on bogus ration cards, CIC's revelation on demonetisation that RBI disapproved it, the then RBI Raghuram Rajan giving the list of top NPA defaulters and value of black money brought back from abroad.
"These are the embarrassing cases for the government. The case about his educational qualification in Delhi Court. The Prime Minister has claimed four crore bogus ration cards were weeded out by his government whereas the RTI shows that the number of bogus rations cards was actually 2.3 crore," he had said.
The former Union Minister had said that the real reason for the amendments in the Bill was to make the CIC "toothless" and to convert the information body to "Prime Minister office directed body".He had accused the government of giving misleading statements regarding its claim of strengthening the RTI Act and the CIC.