Charging him with a systematic attempt to “subvert the RTI Act,” she said the government was deliberately keeping key posts of Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), CVC and Lok Pal vacant. “His government has made sure the offices of the PMO, Cabinet Secretariat… are no longer accountable. … It points to a clear attempt to avoid transparency and subvert the RTI,” she said.
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Sonia had given a notice for moving an adjournment motion. Speaker Sumitra Mahajan did not allow it, but permitted her to raise it after Question Hour. The Congress president rarely speaks in the House.
She said the post of the CIC had been lying vacant for more than eight months “resulting in a virtual stand-still in the functioning of the Central Information Commission established by the UPA through the landmark RTI Act.” The post of three Information Commissioners had been vacant for over a year, resulting in the backlog of 39,000 cases. “Information delayed is information denied,” she said, declaring, “This is simply not acceptable.” She said, “Furthermore, the DOPT, which is under the PMO’s control, transferred the financial powers of the CIC to a secretary…Such a post has no mention in the original RTI Act…There is no provision in the Act that allows the Government to take over the Commission’s functioning in the absence of a CIC.”
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who was present in the House earlier for some time during Question Hour, was not around when she spoke.
The government fielded Minister of State in the PMO Jitendra Singh to respond to her who argued that a search committee was close to shortlisting candidates for the post of the CVC when the Supreme Court gave a directive on December 17 that the Government seek the leave of the court before proceeding further on the matter.
Earlier, at the Congress parliamentary party meeting, Sonia accused Modi of running the “most centralised government in India’s recent history” which she said “is of some people, by one person, for a select few.”