The Rajya Sabha on Thursday passed the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019 by a voice vote amid a walkout from the Congress, Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Trinamool Congress (TMC) and the other opposition parties. The legislation was passed after the Opposition’s proposal to send the RTI Amendment Bill to select committee was defeated with 117-75 in the Rajya Sabha, reported India Today.
The RTI bill was earlier passed in the Lok Sabha on Monday, three days after it was introduced by the government. In the Lok Sabha, 218 members voted in favour of the RTI (Amendment) Bill, while 79 went against the legislation, India Today reported.
Before the RTI Amendment Bill as to be taken for discussion in the Rajya Sabha, the Congress issued a whip to its MPs to be present in the House. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), too, had issued a whip to its MPs, India Today reported.
The Centre had introduced the bill in the Lok Sabha on Friday to amend the RTI Act, seeking to give the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information commissioners amid vehement protests by opposition members, reported India Today.
Describing the legislation as “clumsy”, Minister of State (MoS) in the Prime Minister’s Office Jitendra Singh tabled the RTI (Amendment) Bill, asserting it will lead to ease of delivery of RTI Act. He also described it as enabling legislation for administration purposes, India Today reported.
Earlier, UPA Chairperson Sonia Gandhi had alleged that the Narendra Modi government is “hell-bent on completely subverting” the RTI Act. Sonia Gandhi had also alleged that the government wants to “destroy” the independence of the Central Information Commission. Her reaction came a day after the Lok Sabha passed the RTI Amendment Bill, reported India Today.
“It is a matter of utmost concern that the central government is hell-bent on completely subverting the historic Right to Information Act, 2005. This law, prepared after widespread consultations and unanimously passed by Parliament, now stands at the brink of extinction,” Sonia Gandhi said in the statement, India Today reported.