Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jitendra Singh was scheduled to introduce the Bill in the Rajya Sabha in the post-lunch session on Thursday. Though he was present in the House, the government decided not to introduce it as the Congress and other Opposition parties were against the amendments being moved on the grounds that these would dilute the 2005 Act.
Sources said the government suggested that the Opposition allow the Bill to be introduced and then sent to a Select Committee of the Upper House. But since the Opposition did not relent, the government deferred the introduction till the time a consensus on the fate of the Bill could be reached.
The amendment Bill seeks to change the clause dealing with the term of the Chief Information Commissioner and the Information Commissioners and the State CICs and state ICs. As of now, they get a term of five years from the date they assume office. The Bill states this would be changed to a "term as may be prescribed by the Central government”. This would give the Centre the discretion to terminate the service of the CIC, ICs and the state CICs and ICs in case they do not conform to the will of the government.
The Bill also states that the salaries and allowances of the CIC, ICs, state CIC and state ICs shall be such as may be prescribed by the Central government. Though the amendment also maintains that salaries and allowances and other conditions of service of these officials shall not be varied to their disadvantage after their appointment, the government can reduce it for future appointees.
As of now, the CIC and ICs get the salary equal to that of the Chief Election Commissioner and Election Commissioner respectively. In the states, the state CIC gets the salary of the Election Commissioner and the state ICs get the salary of the Chief Secretary.
The Opposition does not agree with the NDA government’s view that the salary of the CIC and information commissioners should be reduced as this is equal to that of a judge of the Supreme Court.