A group of former central information commissioners (CICs), including Wajahat Habibullah, on Wednesday asked the Union government to refrain from amending the Right to Information (RTI) Act, terming the proposed amendments as counterproductive and aimed at killing transparency in governance.
The government kept the amendment bill secret and did not consult stakeholders before tabling it in Parliament, Habibullah said. The government aims to usurp Parliament’s power to determine the salaries and tenures of the information commissioners fixed by the RTI Act, he added. The Prime Minister talks about maximum governance and minimum government, but the amendment of the Act will undermine his own views, as it will lead to more government and less transparency in governance, Habibullah said.
M. Sridhar Acharyulu, a former information commissioner, said the amendment bill will compromise the existence of the central information commission and take away the power of commissioners to be fair. “Information commissioners could survive only because the law prescribes their tenure. One cannot disturb him/her until he/she completes a five-year term or 65 years of age. We would have been finished long ago had there been no such rule in the Act," Acharyulu said.