The notings on government files, which are made public by the Union Government shows that the Lok Sabha Speaker and the Rajya Sabha Chairman were requested to fast track the passage of the Right to Information (RTI) Act in July, 2019 by not referring the bill to the parliamentary standing committee. This was done to “expedite the passage” of the proposed amendments.
Parliamentary affairs minister Jitendra Singh had written later to both Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and Rajya Sabha Chairman Venkaiah Naidu on behalf of the government requesting to relax the criteria of the rule requiring two-three days’ notice to members before the introduction of any bill (ss per rules, a three-day notice is required in the Lok Sabha before the introduction of a Bill, while in the Rajya Sabha, it is two days). The reason given in the letter was that it was not possible to comply with the requirements of the rules due to “urgency and importance” of the matter. Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha had passed the bill on July 22 and July 25 respectively and on August 1, 2019 it became law with President's assent without going through the examination of department-related parliamentary standing committees.
The government had defended it by saying that amendments in the bills were aimed at bringing "equity and inclusiveness” by providing “uniformity and parity" to the chairman and members of various statutory organisations and commissions in matters relating to their service.
But in reality, earlier the ChiefInformation Commissioner and InformationCommissioners were on line with the ChiefElection Commissioner and ElectionCommissioners, respectively, and now their rank is lower than them i.e. they are downgraded in their status.
Opposition parties with members like Saugata Roy, Asaduddin Owaisi, Shashi Tharoor and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury had heavily critised the Government's move by terming it unconstitutional with demand to send it to the standing committee, but everything was in vein.
Author: Parth Thummar