Centre pushing RTI on brink of extinction: Sonia Gandhi

Centre pushing RTI on brink of extinction: Sonia Gandhi

The former Congress president accused the Centre of wanting to subvert the RTI Act with its new amendments (PTI File Photo)

In a strongly-worded statement, senior Congress leader Sonia Gandhi on Tuesday slammed the Modi government for pushing the “historic” Right to Information Act on the “brink of extinction” by amending it to “destroy” the independence of the Central Information Commission.

A day after the Lok Sabha passed the RTI (Amendment) Bill, Gandhi said it was clear that the Modi government viewed the key transparency legislation as a “nuisance” and was only “disempowering each and every citizen of our country” through its actions.

“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,” Gandhi, the chairperson of the Congress Party in Parliament, said in a statement here.

She said over the past decade and more, 60 lakh of the countrymen and women have used RTI and helped usher in a new culture of transparency and accountability administration at all levels, strengthening the foundations of democracy immeasurably.

The UPA chairperson, who played a key role in the enactment of the RTI Act in 2005, said the weaker sections of the society have benefited greatly by the proactive use of RTI by activists and others.

“It is clear that the present central government sees the RTI Act as a nuisance and wants to destroy the status and independence of the Central Information Commission which was put on par with the Central Election Commission and the Central Vigilance Commission,” Gandhi said.

She said the central government may use its legislative majority to achieve its aims but in the process it would be disempowering each and every citizen of the country.

Lok Sabha on Monday passed the RTI (Amendment) Bill by a 218-79 division, amid strong protests and a walkout by the opposition which accused the government of trying to turn the transparency panel a “toothless tiger”.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019, seeks to give the government powers to fix salaries, tenures and other terms and conditions of employment of information commissioners.