New Delhi: Political parties have the moral responsibility to be transparent but legally they are not the public authority under the Right to Information Act, the CPI Wednesday told the CIC.
The Commission, which was deciding whether political parties comes under the ambit of the RTI Act, had issued notices to Congress, NCP, BJP, BSP, CPI(M), CPI and Election Commission of India to present themselves through their representatives.
But only representatives of CPI and NCP appeared for hearing before the Full bench of the Commission today.
Giving a week`s time to all parties to submit their written representations, the CIC adjourned the hearing.
During the detailed arguments, D Raja appearing for CPI said, "Party follows strict audit measures and submits all audited accounts to Income Tax authorities. After elections are over, the details of expenditure are submitted to Election Commission of India. Neither the Income Tax authorities nor the Election Commission have ever underlined any discrepancy in them."
He said being a political party they are "morally" accountable to public but legally they do not come under RTI Act as they are not funded by the government.
Raja said free air time on television and radio is provided by the government as "duty in democracy" to give level playing field to every political party. He said it depends on number of MPs and differs with the strength of the political party.
Appellants Subhash Agrawal and Association of Democratic Reforms contested the arguments and said parties get land at highly subsidised rates from the Union government, besides many other facilities at the cost of union and state governments and other public authorities.