RTI Amendment Bill passed amid protests in Rajya Sabha

  1. The Rajya Sabha has passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019. The bill amends the RTI Act 2005.
  2. According to the RTI Act of 2005, the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (IC) at the central and state level will hold office for a term of five years.  However, the amendments specify that the Centre will in fact notify the terms of both the CIC and the IC.
  3. The Bill also removes provisions of the salary of the CIC and IC being equivalent to those of the CEC and election commissioners at the central level and to those of the election commissioners and the chief secretary at the state level. The bill states that it should be specified by the government.
  4. According to the government, the rationale behind the amendment is that the mandate of Election Commission of India and Central and State Information Commissions are different. Hence, their status and service conditions should be rationalised. Central Information Commission was a statutory body and it was an anomaly to equate it to a constitutional body like Election Commission
  5. However, opposition parties have criticised the amendment bill on the grounds that it would dilute the Act and curtail the independence of the CIC and other information officers.
  6. They have opined that the amendment would also allow Centre to simply transfer any authority be it the CIC or any of the SICs in the event a case is directed against the interests of the government.