From its premature Cabinet clearance without any enforceable data protection framework in place, to its muddled approach to consent, in-built technologies of coercion leading to profiling and possible criminalisation of vulnerable groups, invasive information collection methods and mythicisation of the “infallibility” of the DNA technology — the Bill is a confused disarray of State arrogance fused with misplaced reliance on technology that’s still too nebulous for effective and wide-scale use
The Sub-Committee on Accreditation of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions underscored that the current selection process under the Act is not sufficiently broad and transparent since it does not mandatorily require the advertisement of vacancies and establishment of clear and uniform criteria upon which all parties assess the merit of applicants. The SCA also noted that the NHRC was not free from political interference.
The Bill intends to lay out that preliminary enquiry shall not be required for registration of a FIR against any person; or the Investigating Officer shall not require approval for the arrest of any accused person. For a Dalit, securing proper non-delayed investigation and successful prosecution is almost improbable which might result from intimidation of the victim and witnesses. The requirement of prior sanction would thus worsen the problem of delay in prosecution and hostility of witnesses.
With 143 names recommended by the High Court Collegium pending with the Supreme Court Collegium, it seems the latter too must be blamed for staggering vacancies in the high courts of India.
While requesting the Court to stay the Order, KK Venugopal, Attorney General of India submitted that, ‘The insensivity of the Court towards social justice cause and judicial dilution of a stringent protective social justice legislation by resorting to judicial excess in total disregard to the legislative intent has been committed in passing of the directions.’
The latest draft of the RTI Amendment Bill 2018 reflects a discriminatory approach towards a statutory body such as the Information Commission. There appears to be an uncanny intention on behalf of the Centre to acquire overarching powers to decide the salaries and tenures of the Information Commissioners. The proposed Bill has also been critiqued for being violative of various Constitutional provisions, especially that of Article 14.
Lawyers, members of the civil society, sex workers, queer rights activist, labour rights activists and child rights activists have criticised the Bill on grounds of increasing abuse of consenting adult sex workers, migrating labourers, targeting of transgender persons and the over-legislation resulting from the Bill’s scope and approach towards consensual sex work.