New Delhi: The CIC has issued show-cause notices to BJP President Amit Shah and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi along with the heads of four other political parties asking why an inquiry should not be instituted in the matter of non-compliance of its order to implement the RTI Act.
Last year, on a plea by activist Subhash Agrawal, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had declared six national parties -- Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI, CPI-M and BSP -- as public authorities, thereby bringing them under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.
However, none of the parties either contested the decision in courts or followed the instructions of the panel.
The Commission had issued notices on February 7 and March 25 to these political parties seeking their detailed comments on the complaint by Agrawal that they had not complied with the orders of the CIC.
"Therefore, a notice is issued to show cause within four weeks as to why an inquiry should not be initiated in the matter of non-compliance of the Commission's order dated June 3, 2013, under Section 18 of the RTI Act, 2005... Take further notice that if you fail to respond within prescribed time, the matter will be processed on the strength of material on record, in accordance with law," the notice said.
The notice has been sent to the chiefs of Congress, BJP, BSP and NCP and to the general secretaries of CPI and CPI-M.
The move comes close on the heels of a Delhi High Court order which directed the Commission to decide in six months on a complaint against Congress chief Sonia Gandhi regarding the issue of non-compliance with the transparency panel's directions that the party was answerable under the RTI Act.
Refusal to provide information or not furnishing complete information is deemed an offence under the RTI Act and attracts a penalty for the public information officer of the public authority of Rs 250 per day from the date the information became due to the day it was furnished.
None of the political parties have so far obtained any stay order against the decision of the Commission declaring them to be public authorities, which implies that they must adopt the procedures for processing RTI applications as laid down in the transparency law.
When an activist, RK Jain, sent his RTI application seeking to know from Congress the steps taken by it to implement the RTI Act and the names of its designated officials to respond to RTI applications, the party refused to "take delivery" of the same and returned the envelope.
A full bench of the Commission, comprising the then Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners M L Sharma and Annapurna Dixit, in a June 3, 2013 order, had given six weeks to the six national parties to appoint CPIOs and appellate authorities as mandated under the RTI Act.