The Lok Sabha on Monday passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 amid massive protest by the Opposition led by Congress MP Sashi Tharoor during the proceedings. The bill, which seeks to amend the 2005 RTI Act, proposes to give the Centre decisive power to set salaries, allowances and service conditions of the Information Commissioners at both central and state government levels.
However, the bill was criticised by the Opposition, who alleged that it will take away the independence of the RTI author. MP Shashi Tharoor said, “this Bill is removing the two greatest armors of institutional independence and on top of that, by controlling the State Information Commissioners, by taking over the power to determine their salaries, the Central government is destroying it”
NK Premachandran, MP from Kollam, Kerala also took a similar position on the bill, saying that the bill compromises the power of Parliament as well as the judiciary.
As per the current RTI Act, salaries and allowances of the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners are at par with that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioners respectively, which have been determined as per the Constitution. The bill was tabled in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension Jitendra Singh who said that it was an anomaly to equate Information Commission to a constitutional body like the Election Commission (EC).