Unhappy with this, members of the Opposition parties staged a walkout.
New Delhi: The Lok Sabha on Monday passed a bill amending the Right To Information Act which takes away the stature of information commissioners from equivalent of election commissioners, with their salaries and service conditions to be specified by the government.
The Right to Inform-ation (Amendment) Bill, 2019, was passed amid objections by the Opposi-tion, which alleged that it was an attempt to undermine the law and make the transparency panel into a “toothless tiger”.
The government rejected the Opposition’s charge that the bill would weaken the RTI Act and said that it was fully committed to transparency and autonomy of the institution.
“The bill aims at institutionalisation, streamlining and ease of delivery of the Act,” minister of state for personnel Jitendra Singh said replying to a debate on the bill. Congress MP Shashi Tharoor said the bill was a deliberate attempt to weaken the RTI Act.
“Since 2014, no appointment has been made to the CIC. A total of 32,000 RTI cases are pending. The government will hire and fire at will. This will be an RTI kill bill,” he said.
When Mr Singh sought consideration and passage of the bill, several members of the Opposition, including those from the BSP and the TMC, called for a division of votes, which was defeated by 218 -79 votes.
After this the leader of the principal Opposition party, Congress, Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury, sought a clarification, which was disallowed by the Speaker. Unhappy with this, members of the Opposition parties staged a walkout. The bill was later passed via voice vote.
The bill is likely to run into trouble in the Rajya Sabha with a senior Opposition member asserting that they would insist on sending it to a select committee.
“An Opposition strategy is being worked out on this. They have bulldozed the bill through Lok Sabha,” he said.