The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018

What is The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018 ?

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2018 seeks to amend "Right to Information Act, 2005", the proposed amendment will give the Centre Government the power to set the tenure and salaries of State and Central Information Commissioner.

Political parties and RTI activists has opposed the amendment and warned that the amendment will compromise the independence of the Information Commissioner and dilute the RTI laws.

Currently an "Information Commissioner" serves a fixed tenure of 5 years and gets salary matching to those of Election Commissioners.

The statement of objects and reasons attached to the amendment bill says that "Election Commission is a constitutional body while the Information Commissions are statutory bodies, hence their status and service conditions need to be rationalise accordingly".

If the amendment bill passed, it will be a huge blow against transparency and accountability of government to its citizens. The spirit of the RTI law lies in not just the filing of an RTI application and getting an answer. It actually mandates the replacement of a prevailing culture of secrecy with a culture of transparency.

What is Right to Information Act, 2005 ?

Right to Information (RTI), passed in 2005 is an act of Indian parliament that replaces the erstwhile "Freedom of information Act, 2002" to enable Indian citizens to request information from a "public authority".

Here "public authority" includes both "government body" and "instrumentality of State" moreover the concerned authority is required to reply expeditiously or within thirty days.

RTI Act helped in relaxing norms of "Information disclosure" that is restricted by the "Official Secrets Act 1923" and various other special laws in India. Right to Information codifies a fundamental right of the citizens of India.

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