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President as MP was member of committee that 'allowed' autonomy to CIC in 2004

By Our Representative
The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) has claimed that thousands of people have petitioned the President of India asking that he should not give his assent to the Right to Information (RTI) Amendment Bill, 2019, even as there were massive protests in Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Odisha, Rajasthan and West Bengal.
On Monday, hundreds protested at Jantar Mantar in Delhi. Organised by NCPRI in collaboration with various campaigns and groups, including the National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), Right to Food Campaign (RTF) and the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), they insisted that the President should withhold his assent.
Protesters said, the the amendment, passed in Parliament, were brought in because disclosures through the RTI Act were "inconvenient" for the government for disclosure of the Delhi University records of the year in which Prime Minister Narndra Modi graduated. Other "embarrassing" details sought included deliberations on demonetisation, disclosure of NPAs/loan defaulters etc.
Petitions were sent through emails, postcard campaigns, using the contact form on the President’s website and through online petition platforms. Said NCPRI, they highlighted that the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was aimed at eroding the autonomy of information commissions, the final adjudicators under the RTI law.
"The amendment seeks to empower the Central government to prescribe the tenure, salaries, allowances and other terms of service of information commissioners of the Central and State Information Commissions. If enacted, it will allow the central government to exercise control over commissions and will effectively make them ‘caged parrots’," NCPRI added.
Pointing out that the current President, Ram Nath Kovind, was a member of the Standing Committee which examined the original RTI Act, NCPRI said, the committee had opined, “Information Commission is an important creation under the Act which will execute the laudable scheme of the legislation …It should, therefore, be ensured that it functions with utmost independence and autonomy.”
The committee recommended that to achieve this objective, it would be desirable to confer on the central chief information commissioner and information commissioners status of the chief election commissioner and election commissioners respectively.
The committee also recommended to confer on the state chief information commissioner and state information commissioners, status of the Election Commissioner and the Chief Secretary to the State government, respectively. The recommendations were passed by Parliament unanimously.
NCPRI added, the petitions to the President also highlight that the government brought the RTI Amendment Bill in a surreptitious manner -- there were no public consultations on the amendments and the bill was not referred to any Parliamentary committee for detailed scrutiny, despite demands from several opposition parties.

Comments

Meera Velayudhan said…
Before joining RSS, he had a socialist political background
Prakash N. Shah said…
May memory stir him

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