The RTI Act of 2005 came into being with the objective of making the public authorities disclose information(s) sought on their organisation, functions and the structure. It also includes the disclosures if sought, related to the powers and duties of the officers and the employees along with the financial information about the organisation.
Why is the RTI grabbing the headlines these days?
The newly elected government decided to give a facelift to the act by getting it amended. The amendment makes the Central government invincible. The present government is of the view that the RTI is a statutory body and thus, the officials will have no fixed tenure and salaries. The tenure will be determined by the Central government. The Central government will decide the appointment even for the state level CICs and the ICs. In the process, the amendment nullifies the state government’s role in the federal structure. The amendment makes the tenure of the officials extendable and the termination, will be at the sole discretion of the central government.
What could be the possible triggers for the amendment?
The opposition parties (political) and the common people in social media has been up in arms in asking for the proof of the educational qualification of the prime minister, who has declared himself to be a graduate. Subsequently, the unearthing of several non-performing assets running into several thousand crores by the PSU banks and with the offenders and defaulters finding safe haven offshore; is being considered to be another reason, in seeking transparency with the RTI Act.
How am I looking at the spectacle?
The BJP galloped into their second edition of governance, in May 2019 after decimating the opposition. It is understood that the political party has an agenda and they are pursuing it with an undivided focus. While we are onto the RTI Act, the amendment is clearly a tool to ensure that the political agenda gets fulfilled without incurring the reputation risk. The entire opposition looks browbeaten in their failure to create either an opinion or stir up the imagination of the country against the perils of belittling the federal structure of our democracy. They are saddled with the numbers not in their favour. They are riddled with the indecisiveness to pursue priorities. Each of the opposition party is busy saving their embarrassment of non-representation of any purpose, for which they got elected to the Parliament.
The critical questions, I have in my mind are as follows:
What is the agenda of the opposition parties?
How will the opposition parties engage us?
I have not come across any answers to the above. I think that one of the common threads that binds the politicians across political parties are the skeletons in their cupboards.