New Delhi: Despite strong Opposition and call for vote against it, government on Friday introduced the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill in Lok Sabha.
The Bill among other things provides power to the Union government to decide the salaries and tenure of the State and Central Information Commissioners.
While Congress MPs Shashi Tharoor and Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary sought the Bill to be sent to a Standing Committee, AIMIM member Asaduddin Owaisi opposed it saying the Bill lacks legislative competence and takes away power of states.
“Sir, I have given a notice under Rule 72. I am of the opinion that this Bill lacks legislative competence. Sir, as you know very well that in our Constitution, we have article 246 which defines the Union and State Lists; and the Concurrent List is in Schedule VII of the Constitution. Why I say it lacks competence is because clause 3 amends Section 16 of the principal Act. This abrogation takes away the powers of the State. That is why, I say that this Bill lacks competence. Now, clause 3 violates schemes set up under article 246. The Union is not competent to legislate on matters of access to records and information under the subjects and entries that fall under the State List,” Mr Owaisi said.
Defending the tabling of the Bill, Union Minister of State for Development of North Eastern Region and Minister of State for Prime Minister’s Office Dr Jitendra Singh said that the merits and flaws of the Bill can be taken up at the stage of discussion on the Bill and today he was merely introducing the Bill. He even argued that the UPA government had made a “clumsy Act” and the NDA government is only trying to improve it.
“You have made a clumsy Act and we are trying to modify it. This is a clumsy Act and it is done in a haste. You gave the Information Commissioner the status of a Supreme Court and at the same time, left the provision of appeal to the High Court,” the minister argued.
However, Mr Owaisi sought voting on this issue. His motion was defeated with 224 members voting in favour of introducing the Bill and 9 against it.
The Congress had staged a walkout before the voting while Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh voted with the treasury benches.