Sonia Gandhi criticises Centre over RTI Bill 2019: UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday alleged the ruling BJP government at the Centre sees the RTI Act as a nuisance and wants to destroy the status of the RTI authorities – Central Information Commission (CIC) and Information Commissioners (IC). She said the Central government may use its legislative majority to achieve its aims but in the process, it would be disempowering each and every citizen of our country.

On Monday, the Opposition said the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, will take away the independence of the CIC’s and the ICs that were put on par with the Central Election Commission and Central Vigilance Commission. The Opposition objected the Bill that gave the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of the CIC and ICs. A letter issued by the Congress Parliamentary Party (CPP) mentioned that 60 lakh people have used the RTI Act and helped usher a new culture of transparency and accountability administration at all levels. The Weaker sections of the society also benefitted greatly by the proactive use of RTI by activists and others, the letter read.

The Narendra Modi-led NDA government at the Centre passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, in the Lok Sabha on Monday after the division of votes with 178 members favouring it and 79 against it. The Bill amends Sections 13 and 16 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. The Bill give the Centre the power to set the tenure and salaries of the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) and Information Commissioners was passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday amid strong objection from the Opposition. Section 13 had set the term of the central CIC and Information Commissioners at five years, or until the age of 65, whichever was earlier.

The Bill was tabled in Lok Sabha on July 19 for passage. Speaking on it, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh had said the current tenure for both the CIC and ICs is five years but the Bill seeks to remove this provision and give the Central government the power to notify the terms of office.