Background and Objective of the Act

The RTI Act, 2005 was passed with the objective of promoting transparency and accountability in the working of the Government. The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

Amendments to the Act

The Bill seeks to amend the provisions related to Chief Information Commissioner(CIC) and Information Commissioner(IC). As of now, the time period of the office of the CIC and IC is of 5 years. But now, the Bill seeks to amend their time period “for such terms as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. The same is the case with that of the State Information Commissioner (SIC).

Further, the Bill states that the salaries and allowances to the CIC and SIC will be paid as per the directions of the Central Government.

At the present, as per the RTI Act, 2005, the salaries to the CIC and IC are that of the Chief Election Commissioner(CEC) and Election Commissioners(EC) respectively, which are fixed as per provisions of the Constitution.

Why this Amendment?

The five reasons which propelled the Government to bring forward these amendments are:

  1. Orders passed by Chief Election Commissioner directing disclosure of the educational qualifications of the Prime Minister.
  2. The details of the Black money retrieved by the Government
  3. The list of the defaulters submitted by former RBI Director Raghuram Rajan
  4. The details of the RBI board meeting before the announcement of demonetization and
  5. Lastly, the information which disproved claims made by PM in Lok Sabha regarding the weeding out bogus ration cards.

While introducing the Bill, Jitendra Singh, Minister of State for the Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pension, explains the reason for the passing of this Amendment Bill. The equating of the salaries of the CIC and the CEC means that they are at par with the SC Judges. However, the orders passed by the Chief Information Commissioner can be challenged in the High Court. This creates the irregularity in the status of the Information Commissioners, which needs to be rectified.

Stating the importance of the changes, Jitender Singh, said that there is no ulterior motive in bringing out this Legislation. The attempt of the government is not to undermine the autonomy of ICs, but to bring in uniformity in services.

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