NGOs, activists for bringing political parties in RTI ambit

Several NGOs and RTI activists supported bringing political parties in the ambit of the transparency law.

PTI| Updated: Nov 06, 2013, 23:14 PM IST

New Delhi: Several NGOs and RTI activists today supported bringing political parties in the ambit of the transparency law even as some other said the move could harm the effective functioning of parties.

Appearing before the Parliamentary Committee on Law and Personnel here, representatives of most NGOs said there was need to put political parties under the RTI Act even as they opposed the amendment bill which seeks to shield parties from the transparency law.

But on the other hand, some activists were of the view that political parties would not be able to function freely if they are kept under the ambit of RTI Act.

They felt that RTI applications seeking reasons behind parties taking certain decisions would hamper their functioning.

But those seeking inclusion of political parties in the RTI Act opined that there was need to bring more transparency regarding party funds.

Around 20 NGOs and activists deposed before the panel.

In its June 3 order, the Central Information Commission had termed Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPI(M) as political authorities.

Following the order, government had brought a bill to amend the TI Act to keep parties out of the purview of the transparency law.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013 seeks to insert an explanation in Section 2 of the Act which states that any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 will not be considered a public authority.

Since the CIC order came on June 3, the amended Act will come into force with retrospective effect from that date.

As of now, the CIC order is `operational`, meaning people are free to seek information under the RTI Act from political parties.

Government was forced to refer the Bill to the Standing Committee in the wake of opposition to the proposed amendment to the RTI Act from NGOs, civil society and information activists who claimed that it will defeat the very purpose of the transparency law.

BJP too had opposed the contents of the Bill and wanted it to be referred to a Parliamentary panel for wider consultations.