Senior CPI (m) leader and former MLA Kulgam Mohammad Yousuf Tarigami on Saturday said that the passing of the RTI Amendment Bill, 2019 in Rajya Sabha despite strong opposition from RTI activists is an attack on the transparency movement by BJP government.
Tarigami in a statement said that the amendment is an attack to democratic right to information and Modi government wants to keep a tab on the Information Commission and kill its freedom.
“The RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019 seeks to empower the Central government to make rules to decide the tenure, salary, allowances and other terms of service of Information Commissioners of the Central Information Commission and also of State Information Commissions,” said Tarigami.
He said that this will fundamentally weaken the institution of the information commissions as it will adversely impact their ability to function in an independent manner.
“Directions by commissioners to disclose information inconvenient to the government could invite adverse consequences in terms of reduced tenure and/or cuts in their salaries and allowances. This bill seeks to dilute the Information Commission of its powers, which has made the government uncomfortable in past,” Tarigami in a statement said .
He said that the amendment comes in the backdrop of a few orders of the information commission that were considered uncomfortable for the Modi government in recent times. One example can be gauged from the status of non-performing assets in public sector banks.
“The RTI has resulted in a fundamental shift empowering a citizen’s access to power and decision-making. That is why this government doesn’t like it. The RTI has become a challenge to vested interests at all levels of government because it threatens arbitrariness, misuse of privilege and corruption,” he added.
“Through RTI, the citizens had raised questions on the defence ministry, demonetisation, unemployment figures, Reserve Bank of India and other important issues. It is important to recall that scores of RTI activists have given their lives to uphold this revolutionary democratic right which is being scuttled by the Modi-government now,” said Tarigami in a statement.