The Supreme Court on Monday arrested the Center for failing to respond to a plea by Congressman Jairam Ramesh who challenged the constitutional validity of the Right to Information (Amendment) Act 2019, which gives the government power prescribing terms of reference, allowances and salaries for information commissioners.
A bench of Judges DY Chandrachud and Mr. Shah told the Center’s lawyer, who asked for some time to file a response: “A year has passed since the notice was published in the case. What have you been doing all this time? problem with you? This is an important question “.
The Supreme Court, however, gave the Center two weeks to file the response.
On January 31 of last year, the higher court requested the response of the Center on the plea of Mr. Ramesh, which said that the RTI (amendment) law of 2019 and the RTI (term of office, salaries, allowances and others conditions of service) The Rules, 2019 “collectively violate” the fundamental right to information of all citizens, which is guaranteed by the Constitution.
The plea, filed through attorney Sunil Fernandes, said the provision in the amended law “modifies the previous five-year fixed term of office of Central Information Commissioners (CIC) and Information Commissioners State (SIC), into a central government “.
<< Article 2 (c) of the amending law gives the central government the absolute power to prescribe the salaries, allowances and conditions of service of the central information commissioners which, in the pre-amended law, were considered as equivalent to commissioner elections under subsection 13 (5) of the ITR Act, ”he said.
The provision of the amendment law “explicitly grants the government the power to make rules on the setting of the mandate, salaries and conditions of service of” information commissioners, “the plea said.
“Even assuming that the RTI Amendment Act simply delegated regulatory power to central government without thwarting the independence of the Information Commissioners, the accompanying RTI rules complete the destruction of independence. information commissioners, “he added.
“Under this rule, the central government is vested with absolute power to decide on the ‘terms of service’ of CIC and SIC information commissioners not expressly covered by the rules,” he said. referring to one of the rules.
Referring to the amended law and rules, the plea said that the “unbridled and unchanging” discretion conferred on the Center “jeopardizes the independence of the Information Commissioners”.
“A review of the changes challenged in this document would reveal that there is no rational connection to the purpose of the law,” the plea said while seeking to declare the law amending RTI, 2019 and its rules. which accompany it as being ultra-vires the aims and objects of the RTI law of 2005 and of the Constitution.