Explain your support to RTI amendment bill: Ex-CIC to Odisha, Telangana, AP CMs

New Delhi: Former information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu has said that the chief ministers of Odisha, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh should explain why they support the RTI amendment bill which, according to him, “destroys the independence of information commissioners” and “encroaches upon the sovereign rights of states”.

In an open letter, Acharyulu said all the three — Naveen Patnaik, K Chandrashekar Rao and Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy –are eminent personalities who have sacrificed a lot in taking up people’s issues, strived for the interests of their region, and also the rights and sovereign powers of the states under the Constitution.

“You have a duty to answer these questions, morally, legally (as Section 4(1)(c) of RTI Act mandates), constitutionally (federal principles) and politically (as you have proclaimed that you would form a front and fight for the rights of the states against centralisation of powers by the Union),” he said.

Listing out crucial questions on the implications of the amendment of the RTI Act, Acharyulu asked them to take legal assistance to find out their support to the bill which would kill their sovereign powers.

Acharyulu, a keen supporter of transparency, asked the three chief ministers if they know that the bill “kills the autonomy of state information commissions too”.

“Do you know that this kind of the most unjustified and unconstitutional surrender of your sovereignty to powers of Delhi, with specific reference to your powers of appointing an information commissioner will disable you from determining the term and status of your own commissioners?” he said in the letter.

The former information commissioner also questioned the chief ministers on what have they achieved by supporting the “unconstitutional”, “anti-democratic” and “anti-federal” bill.

The BJD-led by Naveen Patnaik, TRS-led by K Chandrashekar Rao and YSR-Congress led by Y S Jagan Mohan Reddy are said to have voted with the ruling NDA in the Rajya Sabha to support the amendment which takes away fixed tenure and parity of information commissioners with election commissioners.

“Is there any fear or apprehension you are suffering from? Among the three of you, only one has some charges against him pending, then why the other two were worried about the Centre?” Acharyulu said.

He urged the trio to release detailed statements on what compelled them to accept the “unconstitutional bill which destroys the independence of information commissioners and encroaches upon the sovereign rights of states”.