RTI Bill introduced amid Opposition flak

Centre to set service terms of panel
Amid protests by the Opposition parties, a Bill to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act and give the Union government the power to set the service conditions and salaries of Information Commissioners was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Friday. The Bill was eventually introduced after the Treasury benches won a vote with 224 MPs supporting it and nine opposing. Though the Congress opposed the introduction of the Bill with senior leader Shashi Tharoor calling it an “RTI elimination Bill”, the party chose to walk out when Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi demanded a vote. The new Bill seeks to change the status of the Information Commissioners who are on a par with the Election Commissioners, and states that the term of office, salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions shall be “as prescribed by the Central government”. Currently, Section 13(5) of the Act provides that these are equivalent to that of the Chief Election Commissioner for the Chief Information Commissioner and to an Election Commissioner for an Information Commissioner. Leader of the Congress in the Lok Sabha Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said the draft law was a threat to the independence of the Central Information Commission while Mr. Tharoor said this Bill was actually an “RTI elimination Bill” removing two greater powers of institutional independence. Trinamool Congress leader Saugata Roy sought that the Bill be referred to a parliamentary standing committee. He said only 26% Bills were referred to such panels in the last Lok Sabha.

Source : https://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/rti-bill-introduced-amid-opposition-flak/article28614469.ece

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