Govt mulling changes in RTI Act to keep political parties out of ambit
Zee Media Bureau
New Delhi: The Centre is reportedly planning to bring an ordinance to that will overturn the June 3 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which said six major political parties came within the ambit of the transparency law – the RTI Act.
Reports, Friday, said that the Congress-led UPA government is also trying to take onboard political parties and evolve a consensus before proceeding further.
If the sources are to be believed, the government may bring an amendment or even promulgate an ordinance to keep political parties out of the ambit of the information act.
The Department for Personnel and Training, which deals with all matters related to RTI, has received the first draft of the proposed ordinance from the Law Ministry.
It is being learnt that the proposed amendment to Section 2 of RTI Act will make it clear that political parties cannot be categorised as 'public authorities' and they are in fact 'association of individuals'.
The government will either choose between the ordinance route or amendment bill only after the dates of the Monsoon Session of Parliament are decided. Normally, the session begins in the third week of July.
Though the CIC order specifically referred to the Congress, BJP, Communist Party of India, CPI (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, almost all parties, barring a few, vehemently opposed the ruling, accusing the CIC of overstepping its jurisdiction.
The government was initially critical of the ruling but hesitated taking steps against the order. It now seems to have shed its inhibitions.
The changes proposed, if approved, will make it clear that political parties couldn't be categorised as public authorities, the definition of which has been wrongly interpreted by the CIC.
List of organisations exempt from providing information under the RTI act is expected to change as well.
Political parties could also be added in the list of organisations (Section 8) exempted from parting information under the information act.
Though the CIC order specifically referred to Congress, BJP, Communist Party of India, CPI (M), Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, almost all parties, except a few, opposed the ruling.
"The intent of RTI Act was not to cover political parties. Else, it should have been explicitly stated," Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said here.
At the AICC briefing, party spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das rejected contentions that Congress was diluting the RTI law.
"The party has never tried to dilute RTI. But certain things are under discussion. We are seriously discussing many aspects. There are corporates, NGOs and many other organisations. The question is whether they should come under the ambit of RTI," he said.