SRINAGAR, July 23: Criticizing the bill which proposes amendments in the Right to Information (RTI) Act 2005, chairman of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat has said that fresh amendments in the Act are done arbitrarily which will dis-empower Central & State Information Commissions and seize their autonomous character.
In a statement, Dr Raja Muzaffarsaid that though these amendments won’t apply to Jammu & Kashmir RTI Act 2009, but JK RTI Movement being a responsible RTI campaigner group feels that amendments go against the autonomous character of Central and State Information Commissions except the J&K State Information Commission.
He said that by giving power to Government to fix salaries and tenure of Central & State Information Commissioners, Government wants to make RTI institution redundant and irony is that all this happened without any consultation with the stake holders.
“It is a matter of serious concern that the fresh amendments to RTI Act 2005 were introduced in parliament in complete secrecy which violates the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy of the Union Government, that impresses upon making draft bills public in advance and holding of consultation on the draft legislation with civil society groups working in relevant sectors,” he added.
Raja Muzaffar said that not even a single RTI activist was consulted by Government nor any meeting was held prior to introduction of this bill in Lok Sabha. He hoped that J&K Government will not take any step to amend the State law as a follow-up. “There are many other issues for J&K Government to address vis a vis RTI Act especially to appoint State Chief Information Commissioner and one Information Commissioner,” Muzaffar added.