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RTI Amendment Bill will compromise autonomy of transparency panel: Ex-information commissioners

twitter-logoPTI | July 24, 2019 | Updated 19:38 IST

New Delhi, Jul 24 (PTI) The amendments to the Right to Information Act proposed by the government will compromise autonomy of the transparency panel by making it subordinate to the executive, former central information commissioners said on Thursday. The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 proposes to give the Centre the powers to set the salaries and service conditions of information commissioners at the central and state levels. The government's move has triggered protests from the Opposition and RTI activists, who allege that the Bill seeks to undermine the authority of the information commissions. "Chief information commissioners could survive only because the law prescribes their tenure. One cannot disturb him/her until he/she completes the complete five-year term or 65 years of age. We would have been finished long ago had there been no such rule in the Act," former information commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu said. "The government is not telling Parliament what will be the status of information commissioners...will that be equal to secretary or upper division clerk?" he said. The commission should be independent of the government because it deals with issues wherein it directs the administration to provide information. After the amendment to the RTI Act, the information commissioners will be totally dependent on the government for tenure and salaries, Acharyulu said. Wajahat Habibullah, the first chief information commissioner, claimed that through the amendment the government seeks to usurp Parliament's power to determine the salaries of the information commissioners and their tenure fixed by the RTI Act at the central and state levels. The government kept the amendment bill a "top secret" and introduced it in Parliament without seeking public opinion, he said. PTI GVS SMN SMN

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