Ruckus in Rajya Sabha over RTI Amendment Bill; House adjourned

Sahasrabuddhe addressing the house said that several incidents have also been reported where RTI is used to blackmail people.


New Delhi| The Upper House of the parliament descended into chaos as the RTI Amendment bill was taken up for the discussion. On July 22, the Act was passed in the Lok Sabha.

Talking about the amendment proposed to the RTI Act, BJP MP Dr Vinay Sahasrabuddhe said that there are anomalies in the act which the BJP govt seeks to address. Sahasrabuddhe said, “Information Commissioner is a facilitator of the justice/information. The Information Commissioner is not a judge.” He further added the provision in the act which gives the Information Commissioners salary equal to the Supreme Court judge.

He also said that there is ambiguity over who can be appointed as the Information Commissioners. Sahasrabuddhe addressing the house said that several incidents have also been reported where RTI is used to blackmail people.

On the other hand, Regional parties like YSRCP and BJD seem to have supported the bill. YSRCP MP, Vijaysai Reddy expressed the party’s support to the bill. However, he raised the concerns over several posts of Information Commissioners lying vacant.

Meanwhile, some opposition MPs entered the well of the house and started shouting slogans. They were demanding to send the Bill to select committee. However, BJP clarified that the amendments will not harm the powers of the Information Commissioners.

What is RTI Amendment Bill?

The bill proposes to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 so as to provide that the term of office of, and the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of, the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners and the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners, “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government.”

Also Read: What is RTI Amendment bill and why is the opposition against it

The proposed bill dated July 15 has been circulated among the members of Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh. It will be introduced Friday, a highly placed official said.

It states that term of offices, salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions shall be “as prescribed by the Central Government”.

Why activists and opposition politicians are opposing it?

When it was circulated last year, the move had faced criticism from civil society members, activists and former Information Commissioners who had said that the move will take away the independence of the Commissions, highest adjudicating bodies in the matter of the RTI Act. Finally, it was not introduced in the Parliament.

Also Watch: Amending the RTI is not good for democracy

According to the activists, the efficacy of the RTI Act, allowing any Indian to seek information from any authority on the payment of Rs 10, hinges closely on the independence of the CIC and its equivalents in the states — state information commissions that adjudicate the matter in case information is not furnished to applicants within the parameters of the law.

When asked Congress leader in Lok Sabha, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary said his party will “fight tooth and nail” to oppose the amendment.

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