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Plea to bring BJD under information act turned down

IANS | Last Updated: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 20:54

Bhubaneswar: The State Information Commission (SIC) of Odisha Friday rejected a plea to bring the state`s ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) under the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

The commission, while disposing off petitions filed by Biswajit Mohanty and two others, said the BJD did not constitute a public authority subject in the jurisdiction of the State Information Commission. If they so desire, the petitioners could move the Central Information Commission (CIC).

Petitioner Mohanty, also a board member of Transparency International-India (TII), the Indian chapter of a global non-governmental organisation that tracks corruption across the world, said he would first study the order and then move the appropriate appellate authority.

He had filed the petition June this year, requesting that the commission declare the ruling party in Odisha a public authority and that party president Naveen Patnaik be directed to appoint a public information officer in order to comply with the RTI Act.

He had moved the commission after the Central Information Commission brought political parties within the ambit of the RTI Act. The CIC order, however, did not cover regional parties.

"I had pointed out that there are certain unique features in the BJD which call for its declaration as a public authority," Mohanty said.

"Several office bearers of the party who hold the post of president, vice president and general secretary are also ministers of the state government and exercise direct and complete control over party affairs and functioning," he pointed out.

"It was surprising that the commission never issued summons to the BJD president. The BJD president also did not depute any office bearer to attend the hearings," Mohanty said, adding that the commission took six months to dispose off the case.

Both state Information Commissioners PK Mohanty and TK Mishra were former bureaucrats who had been appointed to their posts by a committee headed by chief minister Naveen Patnaik.

PK Mohanty had earlier served as private secretary to the chief minister, the petitioner said.

First Published: Friday, December 13, 2013 - 20:54

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