Reality of RTI Amendment Bill | Analysis by Dhruv Rathee
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Reality of RTI Amendment Bill | Analysis by Dhruv Rathee


…thousands of people. So he stood there and he said “Its not about changing the government. Its about changing the system.” He said that “If you do not change the system, you may change the government time and again but the system would remain the same” So the RTI is the law that would change the system Hello friends. The RTI act has probably been the most empowering and successful act of the country in recent times But with the amendments that are being done, you could say, the act is headed towards its death bed If I were to say this in English, (I’d say) R.I.P The act is about to Rest In Peace What exactly has been done in these amendments? What would be its effects? Why are they being done? And what has the government said in response? I’m going to tell you all of this in this video. Come, lets see. To make you understand, I’d like to tell you first that there’s an Information Commission under the RTI Act One at the state level and another at the Central level Information Commissioners sit under this Information Commission, One of them is a Chief Information Commissioner Their main job is… Whenever you file an RTI in any public office for any information and you don’t get a response to your RTI In such a case, you can approach these RTI officers and complain about the non responsiveness to your RTI They have the authority to go to those public departments and instruct them to issue information They can help in various other issues. For example, if you are being overcharged for an RTI or your RTI is not being responded to in a proper manner You can approach the Information Commissioners and complain in all these situations To ensure the independence of these Information Commissioners they have a fixed tenure of 5 years And they have a fixed salary that is comparable to that of an Election Commissioner There is a Chief Election Commissioner whose salary and tenure is fixed Similarly, there is Chief Information Commissioner whose salary and tenure is fixed And the other Information Commissioners are akin to the other Election Commissioners Just like the Election Commission is an independent body, Similarly, the independence of the Information Commission is also essential You can understand it yourself Because if they are prone to bribery under the government, would they help in giving out information? If they are sold out under the government, they’d out rightly refuse to hand out information Or they would not accept your complaints The new amendments states that their salary and tenure would be decided by the Central Government Section 13 of the RTI act decides the salary and tenure of these Information Commissioners And the amendment is being brought here After this amendment, it would be said that their salaries, allowances and tenure will be as prescribed by the Central Government This is the exact change that is being done here in written language The second change in section 16 (states that) the salaries, allowances and tenure of the State Information Commissioners too, will be decided by the Central Government This amendment was first passed in the Lok sabha and later, on 25th July, was passed in the Rajya Sabha too Several people had opined that it wouldn’t be passed in the Rajya Sabha as the BJP doesn’t have a majority there But the BJD and TRS parties came ahead to support the BJP and made this possible So the amount of blame that falls on the BJP for passing this, the same amount of blame falls upon the BJD and TRS parties too The rest of the opposition parties were strictly against this The motive behind this is clear in my opinion The independence of the Information Commissioners would be completely done away with You would ask, “how”? The best example of this would be our police Our police dances to the tunes of the politicians Have you ever wondered why this happens? This happens because if any police officer ever takes action against a politician, then he is transferred He is transferred because the politicians have this power A lot of people say that we need to bring in police reforms to fix the tenure of the police officers So that they cannot be transferred This is possible only because the tenure is not fixed and the politicians get to decide The same would happen with the Information Commissioners now Just like the government controls the police, now it would control the Information Commissioners While saying Rest in peace to the RTI act, I’d like to remind you that In the past 10-15 years, this act has probably been the most successful and most powerful It was brought in under the UPA 1 Government And ironically, this was the same reason behind the collapsing of the UPA government Due to the RTI act, we got to know about the Commonwealth scam Due to the RTI act, we got to know about the 2G scam It was due to the RTI act that we got to know how much currency came back into banks post demonetization This was the reason behind exposing several corruption scams “Right to information has emerged as an extremely powerful tool in the hands of most ordinary people to fight injustice and corruption. It has given voice to the voiceless. It has led to honest officers being protected and the corrupt ones being prosecuted But most important of all, it has led the people of India to feel empowered Empowered to stand up and demand answers from the government A question would arise in your minds that What is it that the RTI did due to which the government wants to bring this amendment? There are alot of things under the RTI act that would have made the government uncomfortable The first is, the degree of our Prime Minister Modi In 2015, an RTI activist by the name Neeraj Sharma, filed an RTI in the Delhi University to find out that the people who passed out as bachelors of arts in 1978 in DU Would it be possible to obtain their details? Their roll numbers, names and marks in the different subjects The DU refused to provide this (information) The RTI activist then approached the Information Commissioner and complained about the refusal to give out information Although it took a few months, the Information Commissioner ruled that this information should be given out The Information Commissioner commanded the DU to divulge this information Now, the people of the DU began to say… The head of the DU said that they could not give out this information But they did reveal on their own that Modiji had received a BA degree from DU in 1978 But they refused to give out the information Now the DU approached the court to defend this The case is till ongoing in the Delhi High Court that upon the order of the Chief Information Commissioner, should the Delhi University divulge this information out in public or not? So you can understand why the government is so agitated Recently, there was another case where somebody filed an RTI and directed the RBI to publicly release the names of the NPAs and the defaulters who hadn’t repayed their loans The RBI refused to do this The RTI activist, again, approached the Chief Information Commissioner The Information Commissioner, again, told the RBI to reveal the information publicly But the RBI didn’t do it The RBI too approached the court where this case remains pending The most unfortunate fact is that this isn’t the first attack of the Modi government upon the RTI As of now, more than 32,000 appeals and complaints lie pending before the Information Commission This is so because the government had not appointed Information Commissioners until the end of 2018 There are 11 posts of the Information Commissioner Out of which, 8 lay vacant because the government wasn’t making any appointments Think about it, when your RTI gets rejected, then you would approach the Information Commissioner But if there would not be sufficient number of Information Commissioners to listen to the appeals and all your complaints What would you do then? The government wasn’t making any appointments Later, some activists filed a complaint in the Supreme Court then the government appointed 4 Information Commissioners in the beginning of 2019 But even now, 4 more posts lie vacant Now you could ask that if this amendment is so despicable, then why isn’t anyone protesting against it? I’d like to tell you that our media is already a sellout, so it will not cover such issues Aruna Roy, who had contributed a lot to the making of the RTI is out on the roads protesting Anna Hazare ji has stated that this amendment would amount to the coming of dictatorship in the country Although when Anna Hazare was asked why he wasn’t protesting against this, He replied that he could not protest owing to his old age But if any young citizen raised a voice against it, he’d definitely support him/her How is the government defending itself in response to this amendment? What is BJP’s stance on this? They claim that these amendments are being done to make the RTI Act stronger They have provided their own reasoning in a one page letter which has 7-8 paragraphs written in English Whatever has been written, has been done so in a very confusing manner In my opinion, they don’t make any sense they have written utter rubbish to defend themselves I could read out the arguments for you but then the video would be very long Hence I recommend that you read it yourself if you want I have provided a link for it in the description The Print has written a wonderful article countering every point You can see it here So what is the solution to all these issues? The solution is pretty simple The amendments that are being done should not be brought in The RTI should be made stronger The Information Commissioners should be made more independent To make the RTI stronger, the political parties and NGOs should be brought within its ambit Only then could the RTI become stronger It should be kept independent In fact, going one step further, I’d say that the police should be made independent too We should bring in police reforms I have made a very detailed video on this (topic) One step to bring about police reforms is to fix the tenure of the police Only when the tenures are fixed, would the politicians be unable t transfer them And only then the police officers would be more fearless and independent This would increase the security of the citizens and the accountability of the government If you liked this video, then share it And if you like my informational and educational videos, then you can support me on Patreon.com/DhruvRathee, where I provide even more bonus features We even gather on Google Hangout every month to discuss issues and to improve upon this content We will meet in the next video. Thank you.

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