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Rajya Sabha Passes RTI Amendment Bill by Voice Vote Amid Opposition Walkout and Criticism

File photo of Parliament House, in New Delhi, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (PTI Photo)

File photo of Parliament House, in New Delhi, Thursday, Jan. 31, 2019. (PTI Photo)

The Rajya Sabha passed the legislation after negating an opposition-sponsored motion to send it to a House committee for greater scrutiny.

New Delhi: The Parliament approved the amendment to the Right To Information (RTI Act) on Thursday, with the Rajya Sabha passing it after negating an opposition-sponsored motion to send it to a House committee for greater scrutiny.

The motion was negated by 117 members voting against the motion and 75 members voting in favour. This happened after high drama in the House over what opposition charged was "intimidation" by the treasury benches to get the motion for sending the amendment to the RTI Act to the Select Committee rejected.

CM Ramesh, who recently quit the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) to join the BJP, was seen getting vote slips signed by members and was confronted by angry opposition parties led by the Congress. Deputy Chairman Harivansh asked Ramesh to go back to his seat as Congress members Viplov Thakur and others tried to snatch the vote slips from his hands.

The House then plunged into a turmoil as Opposition members rushed into the Well shouting slogans against such strong-arm tactics.

Leader of the Opposition Ghulam Nabi Azad said the House has witnessed how "303 seats are won", an apparent reference to the BJP winning an absolute majority in the recent Lok Sabha elections. The Treasury benches countered this. Azad then led the Opposition walkout, saying they would boycott the proceedings.

The result of the division was announced after the walkout.

The motion to send the amendment to the select committee was put to vote after a division was sought when the pandemonium broke out. The ensuing vote on the passage of the amendment after the opposition walkout was carried by voice vote.

Replying to the debate on the amendment, Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) Minister Jitendra Singh said the amendment was not brought without any motivation and was in good faith. This will lead to institutionalisation of chief information commission and strengthen the provisions of the RTI Act, he added.