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    RTI Act amendment a blow to freedom of speech and expression, says Anjali Bharadwaj

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    RTI Act amendment a blow to freedom of speech and expression, says Anjali Bharadwaj

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    Rajya Sabha has passed the right to information amendment bill. The Congress walked out of the Upper House during the voting. The opposition has accused the government of diluting RTI to make information commission a toothless body but with the support of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the government managed to get the numbers. Anjali Bharadwaj, co-convenor of the national campaign for people's right to information shared her views and outlook.

    Rajya Sabha has passed the Right to Information (RTI) amendment bill. The Congress walked out of the Upper House during the voting. The Opposition has accused the government of diluting RTI to make information commission a toothless body but with the support of the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Telangana Rashtra Samithi (TRS), the government managed to get the numbers.
    Anjali Bharadwaj, co-convenor of the National Campaign for People's Right to Information shared her views and outlook.
    “The bill is through and I think that it is a very unfortunate day for not just me but all citizens of the country who felt very empowered by this legislation. We were all aided and helped by the Information Commission which could function independently because they were not under the control of the government,” she said.
    “The salaries, tenure and terms of service of the information commissioners were decided by the law in the statute itself. They were not decided by the government. By bringing in these amendments, the central government has effectively asserted its control over the Information Commission,” she added.
    “It is a very dark day for those who value transparency, accountability and a democratic way of working in our country,” said Bharadwaj.
    “I think that this particular step has been really a blow to people’s fundamental right to speech and freedom of expression. The Supreme Court has held that we cannot have our freedom of speech and expression unless we have information. The RTI flows from Article 19 of the Constitution. So today there has been a very serious blow dealt to people’s fundamental freedom of speech and expression,” she further mentioned.
    When asked about what is the way forward, Bharadwaj replied, “The way the bill was passed was extremely concerning. There was no public consultation at any stage in this bill when it was introduced and then subsequently when there were demands to send it to a standing committee in the Lok Sabha, that was not done.
     
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