Right To Information: An Amendment Bill of 2019


The Right To Information Act, 2005 has been the major law laid to provide the transparency and accountability of the government to the general public. The very Act provides any individual to seek any information about the government activities per se. This is because we, the people are the ones who are the taxpayers, hence, we have the complete right to know and seek information about where our money is being used. However, the major amendment in the right to information Act has been brought about recently in 2019. This gives rise to a lot many questions such as what was the law before per se? What were the factors that led to changes? What were the changes that were being suggested and what changes are actually brought about? What is and will be the effect of the changes and is there any future if the law? These are the questions which are needed to be addressed.


In order to begin with understanding what Right To Information Act, it is very important to understand the very bases of the same. The Act came into effect from October 12, 2005. It covers Central, State and Local governments as well as all bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed and the non-governmental organisations. According to section 2(f) of RTI Act, an information is the term which means any material in any form including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advice, reports, papers, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being.

The Right To Information Act was formulated in order to ensure transparency and accountability in working every public authority. According to section 18 and section 19, it is the right of any citizen of India to request access to information and it is the corresponding duty of the Government to meet the request, except the exempted information. According to section 4, it is the duty of the government to proactively make available key information to all. Section 8 of the act lays down the important provision of non disclosure of certain information. It exempts the disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, if any information causes bleach to privilege of Parliament, or might demand personal information.

Section 16 of the Act deals with the Chief Information Commissioners at state level and Information Commissioners. The term of state level Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners is set at five years or 65 years whichever is earlier. The salaries and allowances and other terms of services of Chief Information Commissioner is equivalent to that of an Election Commissioner and the same of State Information Commissioner is equivalent to that of Chief Secretary of State Government according to this Act.


The amendment has been decided to be brought about are in the tenure and in the salary and allowances of the Chief Information Commissioner and State Information Commissioner. It became a major issue of debate when all the activists and the opposition parties began to argue that these are the sections where if the amendment is brought might curtail the very basis and purpose of the Act. The bill has amended the crucial sections of the Act which are section 13 and section 16. Section 13 of the Act provides for the five years’ tenure of the Central Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners. The amendment has proposed that “the appointment will be for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”. The salary and allowances and terms of the services has also been amended in which it is proposed that the same “shall be prescribed by the Central Government”.

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Section 16 of the original Act deals with the State level Chief Information Commissioners and Information Commissioners which sets their term for five years but now it has been proposed that “such term shall be prescribed by the Central Government”. The same section deals with the salary and allowances and the other terms of services. The amendment proposed certifies that it “shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.

The factors which led to these changes are debated upon. The major factor is nothing but the threat to the power and prestige of the government. The changes tend to destroy the very federal structure of RTI Act. However, it has been proposed that due to the irrelevant and immaterial questions put across by the public, it has become essential to make these amendments. However, it is being said that the amendment actually portrays the facts in contrary. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been constantly asked certain questions such as disclosure of his educational qualification, to disclose the pricing of the Rafale deal, questions about the claims made on bogus ration cards and a lot many more which actually threatens the government, according to the opposition. It has been said by the opposition that the real reason is not the false reason of parity with Chief Election Commission but it is to avoid embarrassments that has been faced from time to time.


The effect of the change will be seen explicitly. The amendment has given enormous power to the Centre to set the tenure and decide the salary and allowances which will surely affect the performance in terms of providing required information. Since, after the amendment, now there will be the fear of losing jobs and many instances of saving personal interests, no officer would be able to work independently and they might lack the accountability according to the reports and analysis. It is said that it will weaken the democratic institutions as the RTI Act proved to be the strongest and the most effective tool ordinary citizens possess. Now there has been the entry of direct control of the government. The system of transparency has been tried to stand waived off. The opposition has strongly said that the Act is at the brink of extinction. It has further regarding as “RTI Elimination Bill” as the honest officials will stop declosing the crucial information that is required to be known.

However, it is important to note that right to information is the part of Fundamental Right under articles 19 and 21 of Indian Constitution which was made a legal right by the enactment of RTI Act 2005. However, the majority view depicts that it will only bring about the transparency in the organisation and the working of the same will improvise for better.


In order to sum up, the amendment bill for changes that have been brought about in the Right To Information Act, although has been passed by the Rajya Sabha, more or less, makes the Information officers toothless. It has become really important to maintain the sanctity of such bodies which provides for the actual transparency of the working and functioning of the authorities. In order to achieve progress in the nation, it is important to maintain the very bases of the nation that is democracy. Nothing should be done in the manner that leads to weakening of the structure of democracy. The preamble of the Constitution itself gives supreme importance to people. Hence it becomes the duty and responsibility of the State to maintain paramountcy of the same.

This article is authored by Ritika Sharma, 2nd year student of B.A. LL.B from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies(GGSIPU))

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