Govt not for sending RTI Bill to Select Committee

Our Bureau New Delhi | Updated on July 24, 2019 Published on July 24, 2019

The Opposition is trying to push the Centre to send the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, to a joint select committee of Parliament.

However, the Government is reluctant and is in two minds on forming a select committee of members from the Rajya Sabha to study the bill, which was passed in the Lok Sabha.

The Centre, according to sources, has also informally conveyed to some Opposition members that the Bill can be sent to a select committee if the panel submits its report soon. The Centre’s intention is to extend the session for 10 more days and get an assurance from the Opposition that the report of the select committee can be tabled on the penultimate day of the session.

The Opposition, however, has not accepted this offer. “People are upset that the Centre is taking the essence out of the RTI Act. So the Select Committee should have adequate time to take the views of all stakeholders,” a senior Opposition member told BusinessLine.

“We will be happy if it goes to a joint select committee or a Standing Committee. But even a select committee of the Rajya Sabha can do the same job,’ he added.

The Rajya Sabha passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill on Monday. It gives government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions for employing information commissioners. The Opposition, RTI activists and former information commissioners had warned against the amendments and said the Central Information Commission will become a rubber stamp if the proposals are accepted by Parliament.

Opposition leader in the Rajya Sabha Ghulam Nabi Azad raised the matter in Rajya Sabha on Wednesday. “Not a single bill has gone to a standing or select committee. There are two important bills listed today.,” he said.

He added that the State commissions are being diluted under the new amendment. “We are representatives of the States. If States’ rights are diluted then we should talk about it. We demand that the Right to Information Amendment Bill be sent to a select committee,” he said.

Trinamool Congress leader in the Upper House Derek O’Brien said the government and the Opposition together passed 14 bills. “There are 18-19 Bills which are transmitted to the Rajya Sabha. We have given a separate notice that seven should be send to select committees if standing committees are not in place, for further improving the bills,” he said.

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Published on July 24, 2019
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