Don't Amend the RTI Act

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Dear Prime Minister,

You had promised the people of India a Bhrashtachar-mukt Bharat (corruption free India). One of the most powerful ways to fight corruption in a democracy is to empower people with the right to information.

It is therefore shocking and concerning that your government is proposing to bring regressive amendments to the Right to Information Act in a surreptitious manner. The amendment bill has not been made public and the government has not held any public consultations on the issue.

According to media reports, the proposed amendments seek to fundamentally weaken the institution of the information commissions by allowing the central and state governments to decide salaries of commissioners. This would adversely impact the ability of information commissions to function in an independent manner.

The RTI Act has empowered millions of Indians to seek information and hold the government accountable. Every year 4 to 6 million RTI applications are filed in India. It is a matter of shame that rather than seeking to the strengthen the transparency regime in the country, your government is trying to undermine the autonomy of information commissions.

We, as citizens of India, empowered by the RTI Act, demand that it not be amended. With the increasing number of attacks on RTI users, the government should focus its efforts on better proactive disclosure of information and offer protection to people who show truth to power by exposing corruption and wrongdoing. The Whistleblowers Protection Act, which was passed more than 4 years ago, has not been implemented till date.

We urge you to ensure that your government drop the proposal to amend the RTI Act and immediately operationalize the Whistleblowers Protection Act.

Yours sincerely,

Anjali Bhardwaj, Aruna Roy, Shekhar Singh, Shailesh Gandhi, Nikhil Dey, Amrita Johri, Rakesh Dubbudu, Pradip Pradhan