Changes in RTI Act detrimental: Former SC Judge Lokur

NEW DELHI: Former Supreme Court judge Justice Madan Lokur on Wednesday said the recent amendments to the Right to Information are detrimental and lamented that the delay in framing rules regarding salary and tenure of information commissioners is affecting the functioning of Information Commissions which still suffer due to vacancies.
Speaking at a public hearing organised by voluntary organisation Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS) in Delhi to mark 14 years of RTI Act, Justice Lokur said vacancies would result in pendency of cases and adversely affect the functioning of the Commissions.
The RTI amendments were notified in August. However, the central government has not promulgated the rules so far. The amendments empower the central government to make rules regarding the tenure, salaries, allowances and other terms of service of the chief information commissioner and other information commissioners.
He also asked the information commissioners to punish the erring officials who withhold information and find a way to punish those whose incorrect decisions make people suffer.
“If an ordinary citizen commits a crime, he or she is punished and sent to jail but what happens to officers who are behind the delay or stopping the entitlement like ration or pensions. I would like the Central Information Commissioner to think of this aspect and take measures to penalise the officers, responsible for holding back and delaying entitlements to eligible beneficiaries, with a fine so that a strong message goes out to the government to take action,” Justice Lokur said.
The RTI Act empowers information commissions to impose penalties of upto Rs. 25,000 on erring Public Information Officers (PIOs) for violations of the Act.
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