By - Simran Tandon on August 13, 2019
“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
- Baron Acton
The mentioned quote is appropriate for the recent amendment bill passed by both the houses of the Parliament of India. RTI Amendment Bill 2019 was introduced in the Lok Sabha by the Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions on July 19, 2019 and passed on July 22, 2019. It was passed by the Rajya Sabha on July 25, 2019.
RTI Act is one of the instruments which has empowered the citizens of India. It is one of the most successful laws of independent India in empowering the ordinary citizens and bringing in the confidence amongst the citizens to question the governmental authorities and machinery. This act aims at the accountability and citizen-centric approach of the government. It also acts as a deterrent factor for the government servants and bureaucrats that they cannot act and work arbitrarily and thus keeping in place the doctrine of checks and balances.
Recently, the Supreme Court of India in the case of Anjali Bhardwaj & Ors. Versus UOI held that the RTI Act is enacted not only to sub-serve but also to ensure freedom of speech. Good governance, which is an essential component of any vibrant democracy, can be achieved if the act is properly implemented. Attaining good governance is also one of the visions of the constitution. It also has a vital connection with the development of the nation.
Firstly, the bill aims at amending Section 13 and 16 of the RTI Act, 2005. In 2005 Act, the term for the Central Chief Information Commissioner, State-level Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners was fixed for the term of 5 years (or until the age of 65 years whichever is earlier). But the amendment specifies that the appointment will be for such term as may be prescribed by the central government.
In the RTI Act, 2005 the salary of the CentralInformation Commissioner (CIC) was equivalent to the salary of the Chief Election Commissioner, salary of the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) and the Information Commissioners (ICs) was equivalent to the salary of the Election Commissioners and at the state level, State Information Commissioner (SIC) the salary was equivalent Chief Secretary to the state. In this proposal, however, it is suggested that the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 be amended so as to provide that the term of office and the salaries, allowances and other terms and conditions of service of, the Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners and the State Chief Information Commissioner and the State Information Commissioners, shall be such as may be prescribed by the central government.
The proposed amendment bill also removes the provision that when appointed, if CIC and ICs are receiving the pension or any other retirement benefits from the previous government service, their salaries will be reduced by an amount equal to that pension.
The main aim
of the RTI Act, 2005 which was to promote transparency, accountability in the
working of every public authority and the citizens’ right to secure the access
to information is being crippled by this amendment bill, 2019. This is an
attempt to take away the free flow of unbiased information and place before the
general public, the filtered information by the public authorities in order to
please the government. The government has weakened the sunshine law without providing any
credible rationale for bringing an amendment as this
hamper the independent working of the Information Commissioners. They are now
no more vested with the independence, transparency, status and authority but
will now be functioning as one of the departments answerable ultimately to the central
 Feb 15, 2019