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Government to amend RTI Act, activists strongly oppose move saying it is aimed at lowering stature of Information Commission

Many RTI activists have strongly opposed amendments to the RTI Act saying they are aimed at lowering the stature of Information Commissions from equivalent to the Election Commission (EC) and to do away with their five years fixed tenure.

Reported by: PTI, New Delhi [ Updated: July 18, 2018 17:18 IST ]
Image Source : PTI/FILE

PM Narendra Modi

The government on Wednesday said it is considering a proposal to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005 to frame rules on salaries and services of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners (ICs) . 

A notice of intention has been given to introduce 'The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018' in the Rajya Sabha for consideration and passage during the current session of Parliament, Minister of State for Personnel Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to Lok Sabha. 

According to the proposed amendment, the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of the CIC and ICs "shall be such as may be prescribed by the central government". The tenure of information commissioners at the centre and the states is proposed to be amended from "a term of five years" to "terms as may be prescribed by the central government". 

"The purport of the amendments proposed is to provide for enabling provisions under the RTI Act to frame rules regarding salaries, allowances and conditions of service for Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners and State 

Information Commissioners. Presently, there are no such provisions available under the RTI Act," he said. 

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Many RTI activists have strongly opposed amendments to the RTI Act saying they are aimed at lowering the stature of Information Commissions from equivalent to the Election Commission (EC) and to do away with their five years fixed tenure. 

The proposed amendments circulated among Members of Parliament seek to do away with the parity given to information commissions with the EC in terms of salary, allowances and conditions of service. 

"The salaries and allowances payable to and other terms and conditions of service of the chief information commissioner and the information commissioners shall be such as may be prescribed by the central government...," according to the proposed amendment.

It also aims to amend the tenure of information commissioners at the Centre and the states from "for a term of five years..." to "...terms as may be prescribed by the central government". 

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In the statement of objects and reasons of the bill, the government has said functions carried out by the EC and information commissions are completely different. 

The EC is a constitutional body established by clause (1) of Article 324 of the Constitution, while the CIC and state information commissions are statutory bodies established under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, it said.

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