Criticizing the bill proposing amendments in the Right to Information Act 2005 (RTI Act 2005) , Chairman of Jammu & Kashmir RTI Movement Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat has said that fresh amendments in the act are done arbitrarily which will dis-empower Central and State Information Commissions and seize their autonomous character as RTI law not the Government was the guiding force for such appointments and fixation of remuneration of members of these commissions (Information Commissions)
In a statement, Dr Raja Muzaffar Bhat said that though these amendments won’t apply to Jammu & Kashmir RTI Act 2009 , but JK RTI Movement being a responsible RTI campaigner group feels that amendments go against the autonomous character of Central and state Information Commissions except the J&K State Information Commission.
“By giving power to Government to fix salaries and tenure of Central & State Information Commissioners, Government wants to make RTI institution redundant and irony is that all this happened without any consultation with the stake holders,“saidMuzaffar.
“It is a matter of serious concern that the fresh amendments to RTI Act 2005 were introduced in parliament in complete secrecy which violates the Pre-Legislative Consultation Policy of the Union Government, that impresses upon making draft bills public in advance and holding of consultation on the draft legislation with civil society groups working in relevant sectors. Not even a single RTI activist was consulted by Govt not was any meeting held prior to introduction of this bill in loksabha. We hope J&K Government will not take any step to amend the state law as a follow-up. There are many other issues for J&K Govt to address vis a vis RTI Act especially to appoint State Chief information Commissioner and one Information Commissioner,” Muzaffar added.