Bill to amend RTI Act likely in Parliament Monday

The government is Monday likely to introduce in the Lok Sabha a bill to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

New Delhi: The government is Monday likely to introduce in the Lok Sabha a bill to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act to keep political parties out of its ambit, informed sources said.

The issue has been in the limelight after a June 3 Central Information Commission (CIC) order stated that six national political parties would be brought under the RTI Act as they were public authorities, receiving significant funding from the government.

The government will have no difficulty in getting the bill passed as most parties are against the CIC order, the sources said.

The union cabinet approved the amendments Aug 2.

Defending the amendments, Law Minister Kapil Sibal had then said no political party could function if the CIC order was implemented.

"This (order) will strike at the root of the political system. People will seek all sorts of details from political parties including their process of consultation and decision-making. Nowhere in the world does this happen," he said.

"The political parties are unanimous against the CIC order. Parties will not be able to function if this is allowed," he added.

The law minister gave a long list of points to indicate that political parties "did not function under a veil of secrecy" and were accountable.

"We get elected by the people. We have to reveal whatever donations we receive to the Election Commission. It is not as if donations to parties are unaccounted for," said Sibal.

Donations received by political parties beyond Rs.20,000 have to be declared to the income tax department, the minister pointed out.

"This can also be made public. It is not as if the political parties operate under a veil of secrecy," he said.

"We give an account of assets and liabilities to the Election Commission and also give an account of our expenses, there is transparency. Political parties are not companies or trusts. It`s a voluntary association of persons," he said.


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