CABINET OKAY TWEAKS TO IBC FOR EASIER DEBT RESOLUTION
07/18/2019
Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY)
07/20/2019

THE NEWS:

The Centre will introduce a Bill to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005 in the Lok Sabha.

RTI ACT:

  • It is an Act to provide for the right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.
  • This law was passed by Parliament on 15 June 2005 and came fully into force on 12 October 2005. 

NEW PROVISIONS OF THE BILL:

  • The current law gives Information Commissioners tenure of five years and salaries which match those of Election Commissioners. 
  • The purpose of the amendments proposed is to provide enabling provision under the RTI Act to frame Rules regarding salaries, allowances and conditions of service for Chief Information Commissioners, Information Commissioners and State Information Commissioners.

NEED FOR THE AMENDMENT:

  • The Centre argues that the functions being carried out by the Election Commission are totally different from the Information Commissions.
  • While the Election Commission is a constitutional body, the Information Commissions are statutory bodies, and that their differing mandates mean that their status and service conditions need to be rationalized accordingly.

INDEPENDENCE OF THE INFORMATION COMMISSION:

  • Appointment: By president on the recommendation of a committee consisting of Prime minister, a leader of the opposition and a union cabinet minister nominated by PM. In states, appointed by the governor on the recommendation of a committee consisting of Chief Minister, a leader of the opposition and a state cabinet minister nominated by CM.
  • Tenure: Chief information commissioner and information commissioners of both center and state hold office for 5 years or until he attains the age of 65 years and is not eligible for reappointment.
  • Service Conditions: The salary, allowance and other service conditions of the chief information commissioner are similar to those of Chief election commissioner. And that of the information commissioner is similar to those of election commissioner.
  • Removal: Only by the President in the center and by the governor in the state.

CRITICISM:

  • Critics warn that such a move could dilute the effectiveness of the RTI Act and threaten the autonomy of the Information Commissions.
  • The Supreme Court has held the right to information as being integral to the right to free expression under Article 19(1)(a); weakening the transparency law would negate that guarantee.
  • It could be harmful to federalism as well because the Centre would be usurping for itself the powers to decide tenure and salaries of even state commissioners.

WAY FORWARD:

  • The bill should be brought with proper consultation with states and right activists.
  • Ensure the functioning of the body first by filling up the rising vacancies.
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