Congress Interim president Sonia Gandhi has attacked the BJP government in Centre on the amendment to the Right to Information Act, accusing Modi government of diluting its effectiveness.
In a statement issued on Thursday, Sonia Gandhi said the “BJP government has now launched its final assault to decimate RTI. To further erode and dilute its effectiveness, the Modi government has passed amendments which diminish the office of the Information Commissioner in a manner that it leaves them at the mercy of very government it is required to hold accountable.”
According to the recent amendments made to the act in July this year, the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) may no longer enjoy five-year tenures and pay and perks similar to that of the Chief Election Commissioner (CEC) and Election Commissioners (ECs) as allowed under the Right to Information Act, 2005.
Gandhi said that the government created hurdles in the appointments of Information commissioners in the past “it is no secret that the Modi Government has seen this remarkable institution as an obstacle to enforcing their majoritarian agenda without being held accountable to the people. For the majority of their first term, several of the Information Commissioner offices remained vacant, including that of the Chief Information Commissioner (for ten months),” the statement said.
“One of the proudest achievements of the Congress-led UPA was the passage of the Right to Information Act of 2005. This historic legislation gave birth to an institution that in the last 13 years has become a sentinel of democracy, transparency & accountability to the common man.”
“The Term of Office for the Information Commissioners is now at the discretion of the Central Government,” she said.
Statement by Congress President Smt. Sonia Gandhi on the dilution of RTI Act. pic.twitter.com/4Vf0QNtJ9q
— Congress (@INCIndia) October 31, 2019
In the RTI Act of 2005 the term was fixed for five years, which has now been reduced to a 3-year term. Gandhi believes the amendments will allow “Modi government to appoint submissive officials who don’t mind serving at the pleasure of the state and who will not allow questions the government finds inconvenient to answer.”
According to the new amendments, the salaries, allowances and terms of conditions, which were equal to the Chief Election Commissioner and Supreme Court judges, shall now be as prescribed by the Central Government. The RTI Act amendments were passed in Parliament, which was opposed by the Congress.