PDP, Panther`s party respond to RTI queries

Political parties from Jammu and Kashmir-People`s Democratic Party and Panther`s Party-have responded to RTI applications.

New Delhi: Political parties from Jammu and Kashmir--People`s Democratic Party and Panther`s Party--have responded to RTI applications even as major national parties remain reluctant in responding to citizens` queries under the tranparency law.

Six national parties Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP? have refused to comply with the Central Information Commission`s directive to appoint information officers and appellate authorities as the deadline for the purpose ended on July 15.

Association of Democratic Reforms, voluntary organisation whose efforts made Central Information Commission bring six national parties under the umbrella of the RTI Act, had shot RTI applications to 45 recognised political parties of which only four have responded so far, a statement from ADR said.

Of these four, Mehbooba Mufti-led PDP and Bhim Singh led Jammu and Kashmir Panther`s Party have positively responded to RTI applications which sought to know from them queries such as allotment of government land and government buildings for their offices and headquarters as well as on issues relating to the finances of political parties, it said.

The two others Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) and All India N.R. Congress (Puducherry) returned the applications saying they do not come under the provisions of the RTI Act.

Although Communist Party of India had responded to an RTI application earlier but they said provisions of the transparency law do not apply to political parties as they are not public authorities under the Act.

The CIC had in its order held that six national parties have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint the officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.

The parties made clear that they were opposed to the CIC order though they were not opposed to the concept of ensuring transparency in the political process.

The DoPT was also considering a proposal to amend the RTI Act during the Monsoon Session of Parliament which is scheduled to begin from August 5.

The amendment may give shield to the political parties by including them under Section two of the RTI Act to change definition of a public authority.