ICs will be like ‘house maid’, transparency panel a toothless tiger ifI Act amended: Oppn

NEW DELHI:The opposition on Friday slammed the government in Lok Sabha over the provisions of a bill to amend the Right to Information Act, alleging it has been
brought to undermine the law and make the transparency panel a
“toothless tiger” like the National Human Rights Commission.

Rejecting the criticism that the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is intended to weaken the Act, the government said the opposition is misguiding the people as the
proposed changes are only aimed at streamlining functioning.

Leading the opposition charge during the debate on the Bill, Congress leader Shashi Tharoor said that under the proposed changes the government can hire and fire independent information commissioners. “It is notI Amendment bill butI elimination
bill,” he said.

TheI Act was a monumental achievement for the country’s democracy and it challenged the vested interests of the government, the former Union minister said.

He questioned why the Bill has been brought “without any public consultation”.

“Why is the government desperate to rush through the bill? Is it because the Central Information Commission (CIC) delivered an order on the Prime Minister’s educational
detail,” Tharoor asked.

He noted the four posts of information commissioners are lying vacant in CIC.

“The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 is a deliberate attempt to undermine theI Act and make it toothless tiger like National Human Rights Commission (NHRC),”
Tharoor alleged.

Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh said that the opposition is “misguiding” the people by saying that the government wants to weaken theI
Act by bringing the bill.

“From the beginning of its first term in 2014, the Modi government has brought transparency in governance for greater public participation,” Singh said.

“I urge the opposition to support the amendment toI Act, so that we can streamline the functioning ofI Act and remove anomalies,” he added.

A Raja (DMK) said due to the proposed amendments, the Information Commissioner is going to be a “house maid” (of thegovernment).

Jagdambika Pal (BJP) said that the government wants to make theI Act more effective.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to give the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information
commissioners. (AGENCIES)