New Delhi: Some important bills were passed in Parliament on Monday. While the Rajya Sabha cleared the Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill, 2019, the Lok Sabha passed The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2019.
The Protection of Human Rights (Amendment) Bill 2019 amends the Protection of Human Rights Act 1993 to include the provision that apart from the CJI, a judge of the Supreme Court can also be the chairperson of the NHRC. As per the Act, only a person who has been the CJI could be made the NHRC chairperson.
On the state level, the bill had proposed an amendment to enable anyone, who has been a high court judge, to be the chairperson of SHRC.
As far as members are concerned, the Act provides that two persons having knowledge of human rights can be appointed as members of the NHRC. The amendment bill proposed to extend the appointment to three members, of which at least one should be a woman.
In addition, it proposed the reduction of the term of office of chairpersons and members of the human rights panels to three years or till the age of 70 years, whichever came earlier.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill has amended sections 13 and 16 of the Act. Section 13 of the Act had set the term of the central Chief Information Commissioner and Information Commissioners at five years, or till they turned 65, whichever came earlier). The amendment said the appointment will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Section 16 deals with the appointment of state-level CICs and ICs at five years. Here also, the amendment said the appointments will be “for such term as may be prescribed by the Central Government”.
Meanwhile, former information commissioners and RTI activists have slammed the government for even the move to amend the RTI Act. They said that by allowing the Centre to fix the term of service of Information Commissioners, the law would end up being another “toothless tiger”.