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Atul Patankar

Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !

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Atul Patankar

As reported at ptinews.com on 31 July, 2009

 

New Delhi, Jul 31 (PTI) The Central Information Commission has ruled that political parties are not covered under the Right to Information Act.

 

Dismissing a petition of an RTI applicant, the CIC said political parties could not be covered under the Act just because they are provided government subsidies like premises at prime locations and free airtime for media broadcast during elections among others.

 

"Even under Section 2 (h) (of the RTI Act) simply concessions provided to any private agency by Government cannot be construed as that agency being owned, controlled or substantially financed directly or indirectly by funds provided by Government," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said while rejecting a petition filed by RTI applicant Balwant Singh Khera.

 

Khera who hails from Hoshiarpur in Punjab has sought some information from 12 political parties including Congress, BJP, CPI, CPM among others but did not got any answer from them.

 

Source: fullstory

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prbhat_gen

is this order published on the website of CIC ??

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karira

As reported in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 21 February 2010:

Political parties not under RTI Act: GSIC - Goa - City - The Times of India

 

Political parties not under RTI Act: GSIC

 

PANAJI: Political parties are not public authorities and therefore, information about political parties cannot be sought under section 6 of the Right to Information Act.

 

This is the observation of the Goa state information commission (GSIC) which dismissed a recent appeal from a citizen who sought information about the election expenditure of the Maharashtrawadi Gomantak party (MGP) for assembly elections of May 2007.

 

In his order dated February 5, the State Chief Information Commissioner M S Keny has also noted that "It is rather strange and curious to note that the laws of the land do not make it mandatory for political parties to disclose the sources of their funding and even less so, the manner of expending those funds. In the absence of such laws, the only way a citizen can gain access to the details of funding of political parties is through their income tax returns filed annually with the income tax authority. So also other authority-election commission authorities."

 

The GSIC ruling came in response to an appeal filed by Pandurang alias Uday Kamat Maad from Curchorem. Maad's appeal named MGP president Pandurang Raut and Goa state election commissioner P M Borkar as respondents. Maad requested Raut for information on the MGP through his letter dated May 31, 2009. When he did not get the information, he made his first appeal to the state election commission.

 

The election commission however replied to Maad stating that it was not the first appellate authority against the MGP president and advised Maad to file his appeal before the appropriate authority. Maad then appealed to the GSIC.

 

In his submission, the MGP president stated that political party is not a "Public Authority" as defined under section 2(h) of the 'RTI Act' and hence it is not obliged to comply with this Act. Raut also stated that the the relationship between the appellant and the party is not like the relationship between a citizen and public authority.

 

The state election commission also submitted that it was constituted under Article 243K of the constitution to conduct elections to village panchayats, zilla panchayats, municipal councils and municipal corporations and that elections to the Vidhan Sabha and Lok Sabha are beyond its functioning. The SEC stated that it deals with elections pertaining to local bodies and that political parties are not allowed to participate in local body elections.

 

Maad stated that that the MGP receives funds from various semi-government organizations and also from various donors. Since the MGP receives funds from the public, it is covered under definition as "Public Authority" under section 2(h) of RTI Act, Maad said.

 

The GSIC however noted that the RTI Act was enacted for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. "Looking at the pros and cons of the matter the Maharastravadi Gomantak Party is not a public authority in terms of provisions of section 2(h) of the RTI Act," the GSIC noted and dismissed Maad's appeal.

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akhilesh yadav

CIC to decide to whether political parties come under RTI Act

 

REPORTED BY ECONOMICTIMES.COM ON 16 sEPT 2012

CIC to decide to whether political parties come under RTI Act - The Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Are political parties supposed to reply to applications filed by public under the Right to Information Act?

 

The question would soon come before the Central Information Commission, which has constituted a full bench comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners Annapurna Dixit and M L Sharma to probe the issue.

 

Political parties have repeatedly refused to provide information to RTI applicants claiming that they are not public authorities defined under the transparency law hence are not required to set up infrastructure for processing the applications under it or replying to such queries.

 

Following the refusal, RTI activist Subhash Agrawal and Anil Bairwal of Association for Democratic Reforms filed the complaint against political parties before the Central Information Commission.

 

The transparency panel has issued notices to Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Bhartiya Janata Party, Bahujan Samaj Party, CPI(M), CPI and Election Commission of India to present themselves through their representative before the Commission on September 26, 2012.

 

"Some of the political parties in their replies to the complainants have claimed that they are not a public authority and as such they are not covered under the RTI Act. Since the issues involved are serious and the decision in these cases can have wider implications, the Commission has decided to place these cases before a Full Bench...," the notice said.

 

In his complaint, Agrawal had argued that political parties get cheap land by the Union Government, which is a kind of substantial financing by the Government.

 

"In view of land being made at highly subsidised crates by the Union government, many other facilities at the cost of union and state governments and other public authorities and regular and election-time facilities provided by Election Commission of India, political parties are to be covered under section 2(h) of RTI Act," he said.

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ambrish.p

As reported in Dainik Jagran on 17/09/12

 

दलों और आरटीआइ पर सूचना आयोग की पूर्ण पीठ करेगी फैसला

 

नई दिल्ली, प्रेट्र : क्या राजनीतिक दल सूचना के अधिकार (आरटीआइ) कानून के तहत मांगी गई जानकारी देने के लिए बाध्य हैं, इस सवाल का जवाब तलाशने के लिए केंद्रीय सूचना आयोग (सीआइसी) ने अपनी पूर्ण पीठ का गठन किया है। सभी प्रमुख राजनीतिक दल 26 सितंबर को पीठ के सामने अपना-अपना पक्ष रखेंगे। सीआइसी की पूर्ण पीठ में मुख्य सूचना आयुक्त सत्यानंद मिश्र, सूचना आयुक्त अन्नपूर्णा दीक्षित और एमएल शर्मा को शामिल किया गया है। मालूम हो कि राजनीतिक दल उन पर आरटीआइ कानून लागू किए जाने का विरोध करते रहे हैं। उनकी दलील है कि वे इस कानून के अनुसार सार्वजनिक प्राधिकरण नहीं हैं। इसलिए, उन्हें आरटीआइ के सवालों का जवाब देने की जरूरत नहीं है। राजनीतिक पार्टियों के बार-बार के इन्कार के बाद आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता सुभाष अग्रवाल और एसोसिएशन फॉर डेमोक्रेटिक रिफा*र्म्स के अनिल बैरवाल ने उनके खिलाफ केंद्रीय सूचना आयोग में शिकायत दर्ज कराई है। इस पर आयोग ने कांग्रेस, भाजपा, बसपा, राकांपा, माकपा, भाकपा और चुनाव आयोग को नोटिस जारी किए हैं। अपनी शिकायत में अग्रवाल ने कहा है कि राजनीतिक दलों को सरकार से रियायती दर पर जमीन मुहैया कराई जाती है। इसके अलावा केंद्र एवं राज्य सरकारें उन्हें तरह-तरह की सुविधाएं देती हैं। चुनाव आयोग से भी उन्हें मदद मिलती है। इसके मद्देनजर राजनीतिक दलों पर आरटीआइ कानून की धारा 2(एच) लागू होती है।

 

http://in.jagran.yahoo.com/epaper/article/index.php?choice=show_article&location=49&Ep_relation=1&Ep_edition=2012-09-17&articleid=111750246232472232

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Madhavi Rajadhyaksha in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Sep 22, 2012

Voters have a right to know finances of political parties - The Times of India

 

The reply provided by leading national political parties to a Right To Information application enquiring about their leading donors and the manner in which the donation is made highlights the lack of transparency in which the Indian political system operates. All except the Communist Party India declined to provide the information mostly stating that they were "not a public authority" and had no obligation to provide the details under the information act.

 

The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a voluntary organisation working towards electoral reforms which had filed the RTI has now approached the Chief Information Commission (CIC) requesting that information about donor funds to parties be revealed, in public interest.

 

According to the ADR, the Indian National Congress and the CPI (M) returned the RTI application and the postal order fee stating that the party did not come under the RTI, while the BJP and BSP failed to respond to the application. The NCP claimed it didn't have enough manpower to provide the manpower.

 

Their responses defy logic all the more as Section 29-C of the Representation of People Act 1951 makes it mandatory for political parties to provide the details of contributions/donations they receive above Rs 20,000 to the Election Commission of India, every year.

 

The CIC is due to hear the petition filed on March 23 in the coming week, but the refusal flies in the face of claims of transparency being made by politicians across parties. Disclosure of such financial information should be made mandatory to enable voters to make an informed political choice. Access to funding sources of their government is after all a cornerstone of any healthy democracy.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Mohammad Ali in Thehindu.com on September 23, 2012

The Hindu : News / National : Many parties claim they don

 

In an interesting development amid the talk of transparency in public life by the political class, all political parties, except the Communist Party of India (CPI), refused to declare their largest donors and the manner of donations in public, claiming they are not a “public authority” and thereby do not come under the Right to Information Act 2005.

 

This was how they responded when the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), a non-profit organisation, asked the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Indian National Congress (INC), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the Communist Party of India (CPI) and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) under the RTI Act about their largest donors, matter of donations and their addresses.

 

Making these replies the basis, the ADR filed a complaint with the Central Information Commission (CIC) in March 2011 to direct the political parties to give this information. This complaint has now come up for hearing before the full bench of the CIC along with another complaint of Subhash Agarwal, an RTI activist, on September 26.

 

“Some of the political parties, in their replies to the complainants, have claimed that they are not a public authority and as such they are not covered by the RTI Act-2005. Since the issues involved are serious and the decision in these cases can have wider implications, the Commission has decided to place these cases before a full bench,” said the CIC notice issued to all the political parties and the Election Commission of India as well.

 

The BJP and the BSP did not respond to the RTI application in October 2010. The NCP replied, but said that it did not have enough manpower to provide the information sought.

 

Only the CPI provided the information and claimed it also had an internal appellate authority which could be approached if the appellant was not satisfied with its reply. In a letter signed by the then general secretary, A.B. Bardhan, the party said it was a public authority.

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lissing perme

What a hypocrisy !!!! Shame! to those political parties who ask about transparency and accountability every second while asking vote,but put themselves inside four wall if citizen want to know about their functioning.

Hat off to CPI, want to vote for them in next election but unfortunately no candidate is suppose to available in my constituency.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Ashish Tripathi in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Sep 22, 2012

Political parties doublespeak: Demand transparency in government functioning but do not apply on themselves - The Times of India

 

LUCKNOW: The Central Information Commission (CIC) will hear the complaint lodged by the the by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR) that major political parties in the country are not giving information of the donations received by them under the Right to Information (RTI) on September 26, 2102. Significantly, the hearing is being held after one-and-half-year of filing complaint. The ADR had earlier exposed that despite economic slowdown and high inflation, the income of almost all the major political parties increased considerably through donations made by 'undisclosed sources' in past five years.

 

The ADR, an umbrella organisation of civil society members working for transparency and accountability in democracy, had filed the applications under the RTI with all the major political parties in India in 2011 seeking information on source and method of receiving donations to run their organisation. In response, all political parties barring the Communist Party of India (CPI) declined to give the information. While CPI provided the information about their largest donors, their addresses, the mode of payment of these donations etc, other parties either didn't reply or simply said that they did not come under RTI.

 

In a letter signed by their then general secretary AB Bardhan, CPI said that it is a 'Public Authority' as the organization is substantially financed directly or indirectly by government funds. It also said that they have an internal appellate authority in case we were not satisfied by the information received.

However, the Congress returned the RTI letter along with the postal order. In the letter signed by Motilal Vohra, it said that party is returning the letter and postal order because it does not come under the RTI. The Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) did not respond to the application.

 

Interestingly, the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) replied but said that it didn't have enough man-power to provide the information. The Communist Party of India Marxist (CPIM) also returned the RTI application along with the postal order. Through a letter singed by Hari Singh Kang, member of the central secretariat of the party said that CPI(M) is not a public authority as per the provisions of RTI Act and hence under no obligation to provide the information. On the basis of these replies, the ADR had filed a complaint with the CIC in March 2011. It has now come for hearing along with another complaint.

 

The ADR said in a statement released on Saturday that leaders of all political parties publicly maintain that they are committed to transparency and probity in the functioning. However when it comes to the implementation, their behavior is completely opposite. These replies bring to the fore the biggest farce that our democracy is plagued with - the opaque functioning of political parties with no space for engagement with the citizens and no willingness to open themselves to the public scrutiny. It is common knowledge that the political parties also get lot of benefits and facilities from various government departments.

 

The ADR had earlier won the case in which political parties were asked to make their Income Tax (IT) returns and contribution reports available in the public domain. Even at that time all political parties had opposed to part with this information. The CIC had then, however, directed the IT authorities to make the information public as it invilves public interest. Now the CIC will hear the ADR application on whether the political parties come under the RTI on September 26. The CIC has also now also admitted that the matter is serious and of wider implications. The case is thus going to be placed before full bench.

 

The political parties get tax exemption on all their income. In addition, theys have been also provided facilities for residential and official use by directorate of estates. They have been given offices and accommodations at prime locations like Akbar road, Raisina road and Chanakyapuri in Delhi and are charged only a token of money as rent. The maintenance, upgrading, modernization, renovation and construction of these accommodations are also carried out at state expense. Besides, political parties also get benefit of various services provided by the Election Commission of India, Doordarshan and All India Radio.

 

A study conducted by the ADR recently had revealed that the major source of the income of political parties in India is through donations and voluntary contributions. However, majority donations comes from undisclosed contributors. Further, the report said that the top five parties with the highest total income between financial year (FY) 2004-05 and FY 2010-11 (last 7 years) are the Congress with Rs 2008 crore followed by Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) with Rs 994 crore, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) - Rs 484 crore, Communist Party Marxist (CPM) - Rs 417 crore and Samajwadi Party (SP) - Rs 279 crore.

 

Between 80-90% of the income of these political parties is through donations from unnamed sources. According to rules, it is mandatory for the political parties to provide names of the contributors who donate above Rs 20,000. But figures available show that ""named sources of income"" form a very small percentage of total income of the parties. For FY 2009-2010 and FY 2010-2011, BJP's donations from named donors amounted to 22.76% of the total income. The congress has shown a mere 11.89% of their income from named contributions, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) -- 4.64% and CPM - 1.29%.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Chetan Chauhan in Hindustantimes.com on September 24, 2012

Govt

 

Are political parties required to reveal the source of their funding under the Right to Information Act? While the CPI agreed to disclose its funding to an NGO, other parties have flatly refused to do so.

 

Association for Democratic Rights (ADR), sought the information under RTI, claiming that political parties are covered under RTI since they get huge tax exemption from the government.

 

Four major political parties in India have got Rs. 1,033 crore from the government in form of income tax exemption, replies received from the income tax department under the transparency law has revealed.

 

ADR then filed RTIs with the major political parties seeking information regarding source of their funding in a bid to bring transparency in the Indian political system. The NGO claimed that since the parties were receiving income tax exemption they were public authorities as per definition of the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

 

The Communist Party of India agreed with ADR. “CPI is a public authority as the organization is substantially financed directly or indirectly by government funds,” party general secretary A B Bardhan told ADR, while providing details of the party funding. CPI also said it has an appellate authority as required under the RTI Act.

 

Other political parties disagreed.

 

Congress treasurer Motilal Vohra in a letter to ADR said the party does not come under RTI, while returning the RTI letter with the postal order. The Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) said it didn't have enough man-power to provide the information sought. The BJP and BSP did not respond to the RTI applications.

 

Taking tax exemption amounts to substantial indirect funding from the government, a ground enough to declare an organization ‘public authority’ under the RTI law.

 

Punjab and Haryana High Court had declared Punjab Cricket Association, a private body, as a public authority under the RTI law for availing exemption of the entertainment tax. Similarly, Punjab State Information Commission declared Christian Medical College Ludhiana as a public authority for seeking exemption from paying income tax.

 

“I don’t understand why the political parties are not willing to share information on their funding,” said Anil Bairwal, national coordinator of ADR.

 

Data compiled by ADR shows that the Congress maximum income tax exemption of Rs. 557 crore between 2006-07 and 2010-11 followed by BJP ( Rs. 282 crore) and BSP 97 crore.

 

The political parties are exempted from paying any income tax under section 13 (A) of the Income Tax Act on the ground that the money is being used for “benefit of public”. Apart from tax exemption, the parties have also got prime property in Lutyens Delhi for their offices, for which they have to pay a nominal rent.

 

The ADR has now filed an appeal with the information watchdog, the Central Information Commission, against rejection of its RTI application by the political parties. Considering the wider ramification of the appeal, the full bench of the CIC is expected to hear the case on Wednesday.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Sep 25, 2012

Govt funding parties’ poll campaigns from state coffer - The Times of India

 

NEW DELHI: The government may have not yet taken a decision on the state funding of elections, but it found to be funding part of expenses of political parties from the state exchequer.

 

Details obtained by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) through the Right to Information Act show how the government has been using its official news agencies — Doordarshan and All India Radio — to fund poll campaigns of various parties.

 

In the last parliamentary elections in 2009, seven national parties were funded to the tune of Rs 11 crore for their electioneering on the official media. Congress and BJP, the ruling party and the main Opposition, accounted for the lion's share of the expenditure at 50%.

 

ADR has listed a host of other expenses that are funded by the exchequer in its application filed before the Central Information Commission (CIC), demanding that the national parties be categorized as public authorities and forced to reveal their anonymous donors.

 

"Large amount of money is directly or indirectly spent on them on electioneering, accommodation and by way of tax exemption running into hundreds of crores on total income," said Anil Bairwal of ADR.

 

The NGO had taken its fight to CIC after national parties refused to divulge the names of their donors. Leading political parties have earned thousands of crores in the last few years, and upto 96% of their donors are still anonymous.

 

The parties have argued that donors' names are irrelevant since the contributions received from them are less than Rs 20,000, and consequently legally exempted to disclose the sources.

 

ADR, which works for electoral reforms in the country, had earlier filed a Public Interest Litigations (PIL) in Delhi High Court which resulted in the landmark judgment of Supreme Court (March 13, 2003) making it mandatory for candidates contesting assembly and parliamentary polls to disclose their criminal and financial antecedents by a sworn affidavit.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Subhajit Sengupta in Ibnlive.in.com on Sep 25, 2012

RTI questions parties' source of funds; BJP, Cong refuse to oblige - Politics - Politics News - ibnlive

 

New Delhi: This should not raise any eyebrows as it was expected. Five of the six national parties have refused to divulge details of those who fund them. In fact, they claim that they are beyond the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI).

 

In response to an RTI query, all national parties, with the sole exception of the Communist Party of India (CPI), refused to divulge details of the money they received.

 

Anil Bairwal, who is the National Coordinator of the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said, "Political parties speak of probity in public life, but they themselves refused to give us details about theirs sources of funding."

 

The Congress, the Communist Party of India (Marxist) and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) replied to the RTI notice saying that they didn't fall under its purview, while the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) did not bother to do even that, i.e. give a reply.

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has now asked the general secretaries of the parties for an explanation and has set September 26 as the deadline.

 

The ADR has claimed that all political parties receive benefits like subsidised party offices, ad time on air and Doordarshan, and various other tax exemptions, and hence should be under the purview of the RTI Act.

 

Whether the CIC will uphold their request or not, will be clear on September 26.

 

The fact remains that political parties have once again exposed their unwillingness to publish their funding details.

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akhilesh yadav

Government funds media campaigns of political parties

 

 

 

Reported by MOHAMMAD ALI in the hindu.com on Sep 26, 2012

The Hindu : Cities / Delhi : Government funds media campaigns of political parties

 

Highlighting “direct/indirect ways of government funding”, ADR demands they be brought under RTI purview

The Union Government funds media expenses of political parties from the public exchequer and allots them land worth crores at prime locations in the Capital at nominal rates.

Highlighting these “direct/indirect ways of government funding,” the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) arguing that political parties be categorised as “public authority” and brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

The case is expected to come up before the CIC on Wednesday.

The ADR, which works for electoral reforms in the country, approached the CIC after political parties, except the Communist Party of India (CPI), refused to answer its RTI query asking details of their donors. In reply to the ADR, they declared that they were not “public authority” and thereby did not come under the purview of the RTI Act.

Documents accessed by the ADR through the RTI show how seven national parties were sponsored airtime on the official media — Doordarshan and All India Radio — to the tune of Rs. 11 crore for their election campaign during the 2009 general election. The Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the ruling party and the main Opposition, accounted for the lion’s share of the expenditure at 50 per cent.

The Directorate of Estates of the Union Ministry of Urban Development allots land to national parties for official use, for which they are charged a token amount. In all, the Indian National Congress, the BJP, the CPI, the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Nationalist Congress Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have been allotted lands at prime locations in Delhi which, even if valued by the circle rate of category “B”, are estimated to be worth Rs.508.37 crore.

The BJP and the Congress share of these land allocations stands at 18,737.42 square metre and 10,410.8 square metre respectively, which are valued at Rs.254.81 crore and Rs. 241.59 crore respectively.

While pitching for the political parties to be brought under the transparency law, Anil Bairwal of ADR argued that “large amount of money is directly and indirectly spent on them on their election campaign, accommodation and by way of tax exemption running into hundreds of crores of total income. After all this, how can they argue that they are not public authority?”

In order to back up his argument, Mr. Bairwal also gave instances of court judgments where the usage of government land at subsidised rates by societies/trusts/schools has been used as a basis to declare them as “public authorities” so as to bring them under the purview of the RTI Act.

“The Punjab and Haryana High Court declared the Sutlej Club as public authority and brought it under the transparency law just because the club was built on a government land. The CIC declared Mount St. Mary’s School in Delhi as public authority primarily because five acre of prime land was given to the school at a subsidised rate.”

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akhilesh yadav

राजनीतिक दलों के आरटीआइ दायरे पर फैसला आज

 

Reported by jagran.com on Sep 26, 2012

Political parties under RTI : CIC to decide -

 

नई दिल्ली [जागरण न्यूज नेटवर्क]। केंद्रीय सूचना आयोग की पूर्ण पीठ बुधवार को एक अहम व दूरगामी फैसले में यह तय कर सकती है कि राजनीतिक दल सूचना के अधिकार के दायरे में आते हैं या नहीं। भाजपा, कांग्रेस, बसपा समेत ज्यादातर राजनीतिक दल आरटीआइ के दायरे में न होने का हवाला देते हुए करोड़ों का चंदा देने वालों और अन्य वित्ताीय गतिविधियों की जानकारी देने से इन्कार करते रहे हैं।

एसोसिएशन फॉर डेमोक्रेटिक रिफा*र्म्स के राष्ट्रीय संयोजक अनिल बैरवाल और आरटीआइ कार्यकर्ता सुभाष चंद्र अग्रवाल ने इन दलों के खिलाफ 10 सितंबर को केंद्रीय सूचना आयोग का दरवाजा खटखटाया था। मसले की अहमियत समझते हुए आयोग ने फैसले के लिए पूर्ण पीठ का गठन किया है। मुख्य सूचना आयुक्त सत्यानंद मिश्रा, सूचना आयुक्त अन्नापूर्णा दीक्षित और एमएल शर्मा की पीठ मामले की सुनवाई करेगी।

एडीआर का कहना है कि भाजपा, कांग्रेस और बसपा समेत तमाम बड़े दलों को 2006-07 से 2010-11 के बीच 1093 करोड़ रुपये की टैक्स छूट मिल चुकी है। कर छूट पाने वाले आरटीआइ दायरे में आते हैं। पंजाब एवं हरियाणा हाई कोर्ट ने भी अपने एक फैसले में ऐसा कहा है। आयकर रिटर्न से मिली जानकारी में एडीआर ने बताया है कि वित्ताीय वर्ष 2004-05 से 2010-11 के बीच कांग्रेस की आय 2008.71 करोड़ रुपये वहीं भाजपा की 994.76 करोड़ रुपये रही।

सभी राजनीतिक दल पारदर्शिता, शुचिता और भ्रष्टाचार को खत्म करने की बात तो करते हैं लेकिन उन्हें अपनी वित्ताीय गतिविधियों को सार्वजनिक करने से गुरेज है। चंदा देने वाले संगठनों, उनके खातों आदि की जानकारी देने से इन्कार करते हुए कांग्रेस कोषाध्यक्ष मोतीलाल वोरा ने पोस्टल आर्डर समेत आवेदन लौटा दिया था। जबकि भाजपा और बसपा ने तो जवाब देना भी मुनासिब नहीं समझा। अजीबोगरीब तर्क में राकांपा ने कहा है कि उसके पास इतना स्टाफ नहीं है कि वह दानकर्ताओं की जानकारी दे सके। सिर्फ भाकपा ने माना है कि वह एक सार्वजनिक संस्था है और आरटीआइ के तहत सूचना देने को बाध्य है।

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Zeenews.india.com on September 26, 2012

Political parties morally bound to be transparent: CPI to CIC

 

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.

 

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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.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Hindustantimes.com on September 26, 2012

CIC poser to BJP, Congress on RTI - Hindustan Times

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has given political parties, including the Congress and BJP 10 days to make their submissions on whether they should be declared public authorities under the Right To Information law. The commission decided to issue a notice to other political parties only after representatives of the CPI and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) appeared before it on appeals filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal seeking to bring political parties under the RTI ambit.

 

Appearing on behalf of appellants, Prashant Bhushan argued that the political parties should be declared public authority under the RTI law as they were receiving substantial government funding through I-T exemption.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Neha Shukla in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Sep 27, 2012

Central information commission yet to conclude if political parties are under RTI - The Times of India

 

LUCKNOW: Are political parties under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act or not, decision on it has been left inconclusive. The central information commission (CIC) had held a hearing into the complaints that political parties do not provide information under RTI on Wednesday. Only two political parties participated in the hearing, Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and CPI.

 

The commission had asked at least six political parties the respondents in the case - CPI(M), All India Congress committee, NCP, CPI, BSP and BJP. CPIO, Election Commission of India was also asked to appear. D Raja of CPI said that morally speaking political parties should provide information under RTI but technically speaking, political parties do not come under RTI.

 

The commission has asked the parties to give their written submissions within a week, said Subhash Chandra Agrawal, Delhi-based RTI activist, who was one of the complainants. The commission will also fix the next date of hearing into the matter.

 

The commission received three complaints against political parties for not supplying information under RTI or supplying incomplete information. Some of the political parties in their replies to the complainants have claimed that they are not a public authority and as such they are not covered under the RTI Act.

 

Since the issues involved are serious and decision in these cases can have wider implications, the commission decided to place the issues before a full-bench consisting of the chief information commissioner, Satyanand Mishra and information commissioners Annupurno Dixit and ML Sharma.

 

The commission, therefore, had ordered the respondents to appear in person or through authorized officer, not below the rank of CPIO, and present their case.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Ibnlive.in.com on Sep 27, 2012

Bring political parties under RTI, demand activists - Politics - Politics News - ibnlive

 

New Delhi: Due to 100 per cent tax exemption on their incomes, six major political parties saved Rs 510.02 crore between 2006-09, activists said on Thursday, and demanded these be declared as "public authority" and brought under the RTI Act.

 

Activists said as political parties in the country are indirectly funded by tax payers' money, they should be brought under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

 

The Congress party got the maximum exemption of Rs 300.92 crore, followed by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which saved Rs 141.25 crore in taxes, a data compiled by activist groups Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and National Election Watch (NEW) showed.

 

The exemption is given under provisions of Section 13(A) of the Income Tax Act.

 

This was a part of information provided to the Central Information Commission (CIC) by the ADR and NEW, which asked the panel to declare political parties as "public authority" and bring them under the RTI Act.

 

"The definition of public authorities under the Section 2(h) of the RTI includes any 'non-government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government'," explained Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR and NEW.

 

"Indirectly by the...means of tax exemption, land allotted and other facilities, political parties are indirectly funded by taxpayers' money, and should come under right to information," he says.

 

The tax rebates enjoyed by four other national political parties during the same time period are: Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Rs 39.84 crore, Communist Party of India (Marxist) Rs 18.13 crore, Communist Party of India Rs 24 crore, and the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) Rs 9.64 crore.

 

Besides, as per the union urban development ministry, there is a well-defined policy for allotment of land to the political parties. Political parties, accordingly, have been allotted large sized plots of lands in Delhi.

 

As per calculation by the activist groups, these plots of land based on "highly conservative rate" show that the value of land held by the Congress stands at Rs 231 crore and that of BJP is Rs 117.35 crore. The values of land possessed by other parties are: CPI(M) Rs 50.75 crore, CPI Rs 16.91 crore, NCP Rs 13.6 crore and BSP Rs 27.20 crore.

 

The cumulative value of the land that is in possession of these six national parties stands at Rs 456.91 crore.

The activists also pointed out that free slots are given to advertisements by political parties on state-run Doordarshan (national broadcaster) and All India Radio during election time for advertising.

 

"They are being indirectly financed by the public money, so political parties should be declared public authority under the RTI," Chhokar said.

 

A hearing was held by the CIC Wednesday. However, except for CPI leader D Raja, and a lawyer representing the NCP, none of the other parties sent their representatives.

 

"Not only did most political parties not bother to come, they did not even give a clarification," ADR's national coordinator Anil Bairwal said.

 

"This is the typical attitude of political parties. The CIC is a constitutional body, but did not even send any intimation or information," the activist said.

 

He added that the CIC has said political parties will be given "one more chance if they want to come and present their case". No date for the second hearing was given.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Hindustantimes.com on September 28, 2012

ADR move to bring parties under RTI - Hindustan Times

 

With political parties enjoying government’s largess, the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has approached the chief information commissioner (CIC) to declare them 'public authorities' so that they could be brought into the purview of right to information (RTI). The political parties had refused to furnish details of their funds and their sources to ADR on the ground that they were not covered under RTI.

 

In a representation to the CIC, the election watch group said the political parties, both national and state level, had been availing various governmental facilities like income tax exemption, free airtime during elections and land and house allotment in Delhi.

 

According to information, while the Congress topped the list of national parties in getting R300.92 crore tax exemption during three fiscal years between 2006 and 2009, the BJP enjoyed a concession of R141.25 crore. Other tax beneficiaries for the same fiscal years were the BSP (R39.84 crore), CPM (R18.13 crore), CPI (R24 crore) and the NCP (R9.64 crore). The Prasar Bharti (DD) has also been incurring heavy expenditure on free airtime facilities to parties during election. According to preliminary assessment done by the ADR, the free airtime provided to various parties during 2009 Lok Sabha and 2012 assembly election translated into substantial fund which Prasar Bharti had to forgo. While the Congress is estimated to have enjoyed this facility worth R8.42 crore and the BJP R6.38 crore, others like the BSP (R3.96 crore), CPM (R2.77 crore), CPI (R2.62 crore) and the NCP (R2.89 crore) were also benefited by the government freebies.

 

Moreover, the political parties had also succeeded in getting land from central government and housing facilities at very cheap rate. Interestingly, union urban development has a well-defined policy for the allotment of land in Delhi. According to a very conservative estimate by ADR, the value of land allotted to the Congress is R231 crore followed by the BJP (R117.35 crore), CPM (R50.75 crore), CPI (R16.91 crore), NCP (R13.6 crore) and the BSP (R27.20 crore). The ADR said the cumulative value of the land under possession of six national parties was R456.91 crore in Delhi.

 

The government had also spent nearly R8.9 crore on six parties in providing electoral rolls in 2009 elections. On CIC notice only the NCP and the CPI appeared for hearing. The CIC has issued fresh notices to other parties to present their submission before it.

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Sajib Nandi

Reported by Danish Raza in Firstpost.com on Sep 27, 2012

The big RTI battle: Political parties want exemption | Firstpost

 

Should political parties be covered under the Right to Information act? That’s the pressing — and hugely significant question currently being debated in front of the Central Information Commission (CIC). On one side are the major national parties who predictably oppose the very idea — and uniformly so, marking a rare moment of multi-party consensus. On the other side is the Delhi based NGO, Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and social activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal represented by senior lawyer Prashant Bhushan.

 

ADR made waves recently when it released a study revealing that top mining companies fund most national parties including Congress and BJP. The study also showed how industrial houses channel money to political parties through electoral trusts.

 

It is embarrassing revelations such as these that have political parties scrambling to resist attempts to bring them under the Right to Information (RTI) act. Former chief election commissioner N Gopalaswamy noted on NDTV that while bringing political parties under the act may not reveal the exact source of party financing, it will at least open a door to greater transparency. “With the help of pro- transparency activists, the door will be opened much more in the days to come. But it will be a hard task,” said Gopalaswamy.

 

According to law, the RTI act is applicable only to public authorities, which is defined as any authority body established by or under the constitution; by a law made by the Parliament or state legislature; by a government notification. It includes any body owned, controlled or substantially financed by the government.

 

On Thursday, Prashant Bhushan made a case before the Central Information Commission (CIC) for bringing the political parties under RTI act. Political parties are at par with the bodies created by the constitution and therefore, should be declared public authorities, said Bhushan. “According to tenth schedule of the constitution, political parties govern the functioning of MPs. Political parties exercise this important power which has been conferred to them by the constitution.”

 

Second reason why political parties should respond to RTI applications, according to Bhushan, is the statutory recognition given to them by the Election Commission of India. “A purposeful reading of the RTI act gives us the idea that any body given statutory recognition or power by constitution should be regarded as a public authority,” said he.

 

Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR, who is also a petitioner in the matter, pointed out that the issue of government funding also offers another basis to declare them public authorities. ADR data shows that four national political parties got tax exemptions worth Rs 1033 crore between 2006 and 20011. Centre has allotted land worth Rs 508.37 to Congress, BJP, BSP, CPI, CPI (M) and NCP in prime locations in the national capital. Seven national parties got Rs 11 crore from the government in the form of sponsored airtime on Doordarshan and All India Radio during 2009 general elections.

 

“This is the kind of funding to political parties done by the government. Though we have given the estimate of funding, in its previous orders, the CIC has said that we don’t have to quantify the substance of government funding to a body while declaring that body as public authority,” said Chhoker.

 

Last year, ADR and Agrawal filed RTI applications with national political parties seeking details of their funding. Out of six national parties, five either did not respond to RTI queries or refuse to give information saying that they did not come under the purview of the transparency act. Only Community Party of India (CPI) provided details of its donors including their addresses and mode of payment to ADR. CIC clubbed the two petitions and heard them on Wednesday. The Commission had sent notices to six political parties for the hearing but only NCP and CPI sent their representatives.

 

NCP’s counsel Amit Anand Tiwari said during the hearing that since political parties are created by any law, there is no case for defining them as public authorities. “Many associations and institutions are registered with the government but they are not public authorities,” he said.

 

He tried to counter Chhokar’s argument on funding, arguing “If tax exemption, rebates and discounts given by the government to various individuals, institutions and corporations are considered as funding and a criterion to declare a body as public authority, it will open Pandora’s box.

 

Every day, there will be petitions in courts demanding various institutions be covered under the RTI act,” he said.

 

About free land and accommodation allotted to political parties, NCP’s argument was that people in other sectors also enjoy these privileges. “Why only political parties? Journalists get free land too. Land is also given at subsidized rates numerous SEZs and corporate houses. What about them?”

 

CPI leader D Raja opted for the middle ground. He argued that while political parties have a moral obligation to be accountable and answerable to citizens, technically they should not be covered under the RTI act. “Many corporate houses, societies and even BCCI is given tax exemption, but it does not come under the RTI,” said he.

 

The CIC has resent notices to political parties to send their representatives for the next hearing scheduled early next month.

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karira

As reported by PTI in zeenews.com on 01 Nov 2012:

Political parties oppose coming under RTI Act

 

Political parties oppose coming under RTI Act

 

New Delhi: Major political parties on Thursday vehemently opposed any move to bring them under the ambit of the Right to Information Act saying that facilities and subsidised buildings given for their offices do not constitute funding from the government.

 

A Full Bench of the CIC comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and information commissioners Annapurna Dixit and M L Sharma was convened to decide on whether political parties come under the RTI Act or not.

 

According to the RTI Act, a non-governmental body is declared a public authority if it is substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government. Such public authorities are answerable to public queries raised under the transparency law. During the hearing, all major national parties like BJP, BSP, CPI-M and NCP except Congress were present while CPI had already represented their case during the last hearing.

 

Speaking for NCP, its counsel Amit Anand Tiwari said that according to the RTI Act, public interest is not a criteria to declare a body public authority.

 

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He also said if the details of the donors and such details are put in public domain, other parties may threaten them and thus bring down the entire electoral process.

 

BSP represented by lawyer Shail Dwivedi claimed that there was not "direct or indirect funding" by the government and the facilities like free air time, buildings at cheap rents and other facilities do not constitute funding.

 

Similar arguments were put forth by CPI-M Politburo member Ramachandran Pillai who said 40 per cent of its funds come from its cadre which is slightly over 10 lakh across the country as membership of annual Rs two annually while rest come from 'levy' and donations and it was practically impossible to give such details.

 

 

Pillai said political parties are facing media attack for trying to avoid coming under the RTI Act but party was not concealing anything and all records of donations are properly submitted to respective authorities.

 

Petitioners Association for Democratic Reforms and Subhash Agrawal opposed these arguments saying the political parties have got huge wealth and tax exemptions which constitute indirect funding from the state as the money goes from state exchequer.

 

Arguing for ADR, Jagdeep S Chhokar pointed out while government is accountable under the RTI Act those who form government are not. He said democracy and opaqueness do not got together while democracy and transparency do.

 

He said a notification was not necessary for a body to public function and political parties are performing those public functions even not being notified by the government.

 

In its representation to the CIC, ADR had said, "The disclosure of the information is in larger public interest. There is also a lot of public interest in the financial transparency of political parties. How they earn their income and what is their expenditure?"

 

It said the declaration of political parties as public authority would promote transparency and encourage public debate.

 

"There are questions being raised on the functioning of political parties and the funds they receive. Political parties are an integral part of the democracy. Unless and until they are accountable to the public how can democracy succeed," it said.

 

After hearing the arguments, the Commission reserved the order.

 

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karira

As reported by Himanshi Dhawan in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 02 Nov 2012:

Netas try to escape RTI stick - The Times of India

 

Netas try to escape RTI stick

 

NEW DELHI: Political parties claim to be public representatives but do not want to come under public scrutiny. In a hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC) some parties came up with several creative excuses to exempt themselves from coming under the ambit of theRTI Act. These ranged from expressing concern that revealing names of donors might endanger the contributors' lives, or that it would impact their decision-making process.

 

The responses from political parties came during a CIC hearing on an application filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and activist S C Agrawal. ADR had sought information related to donations and contributions received by political parties, which had initially been denied by outfits claiming they were not public authorities. The CIC full bench has reserved its decision.

 

On Thursday's hearing — the second and final one in the case — Congress representatives were conspicuous by their absence. Representatives of BJP, BSP, NCP and CPM were present.

 

While CPM said that it was willing to make its contributors public, it objected to being designated a public authority. The party said 40% of its funds come from its cadre, which is slightly over 10 lakh across the country accrued from individual membership of Rs 2 annually, while the restcome from 'levy' and donations and, hence it was not feasible to give such details.

 

NCP said that revealing the list of contributors could endanger their lives and that public interest was not a criterion to declare a body public authority.

 

BSP claimed that there was not direct or indirect funding by the government and the facilities like free air time, buildings at cheap rents and other facilities do not constitute funding.

 

BJP also fought tooth and nail against being brought under the transparency law. A similar argument was made by other parties but they were even more strident.

 

In the last hearing on September 26, CPI was the only party that had expressed its willingness to part with the financial information but said that internal discussions should not be made public as it would affect their public stance.

 

ADR has argued that political parties enjoy benefits and facilities from the public exchequer. Political parties get substantially financed by a very large amount by getting tax exemption on all their income. In addition, all the major political parties have also been provided facilities for residential and official use by the Directorate of Estates (DoE).

 

They have been given offices and accommodations at prime locations like Akbar Road, Raisina Road, Chanakyapuri and are charged only a token sum as rent or dues. ``These facilities are not just provided to them at marginal rates but their maintenance, modernization, renovation and construction is also done at state expense. A large sum of money is also spent by the Election Commission of India on political parties for giving electoral rolls. Doordarshan and AIR also provide free broadcast facilities to the parties. If closely seen, the money spent on that basis actually runs into crores. State funding is also given for publicity of parties during elections,'' said Anil Bairwal, an ADR member.

 

The top five political parties enjoy income in crores. According to ADR, incomes of the parties between 2004-05 and 2010-11 showed that Congress had the maximum income with Rs 2,008 crore, followed by BJP (Rs 994 crore). BSP was ranked third with Rs 484 crore, CPM (Rs 417 crore) and SP (Rs 279 crore).

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akhilesh yadav

Congress's no response to Central Information Commissioner notice on bringing political parties under transparency law

Reported by Ashish Tripathi in timesofindia.indiatimesofindia.com on Nov 02, 2012

Congress's no response to Central Information Commissioner notice on bringing political parties under transparency law - The Times of India

 

LUCKNOW: The Congress party is giving credit to its president Sonia Gandhi for dropping Centre's plan to dilute the Right To Information (RTI) Act but did not even bother to sent a representative or respond to the two notices issued by the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) in connection with the case on "whether political parties should be declared as public authorities and brought under the purview of RTI".

 

All the other major political parties responded to the notice but said that they are dead against coming under RTI as it can be used to seek information about their income and donors.

 

The notices were issued to the all the major national political parties by the CIC on the petition of the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), an umbrella body of non-governmental organizations working for transparency in political and electoral system. The petition demanded that all political parties should be declared as public authorities and brought under the purview of RTI.The ADR has raised the issue ata time when funding of parties is being considered as the major source of corruption. The parties vehemently opposed the petition. The CIC has reserved the verdict after hearing the parties and the ADR.

 

The Congress in the ongoing campaign for assembly elections in Himachal Pradesh and Gujrat has been boasting about enacting RTI which is playing a key role in exposing corruption. In fact, both Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi take credit of RTI. On Thursday, the Union Cabinet dropped the draft of amendments in the RTI Act which prevented disclosure of public noting on files by officials under the transparency law. The Congressmen said that it was done due to Sonia's pressure. However, the CIC's hearing on bringing political parties under RTI was also on Thursday but the Congress chose to ignore it.

 

The BJP and CPI(M) came up with a curious argument that intent of legislature while legislating the RTI Act was never to bring political parties under the jurisdiction of the law. The CPI(M) also expressed its worry over making public the information pertaining to the inner party discussions. The party said that this type of information if goes outside the party will be detrimental to the party's interests. The BSP said that parties are not funded by the government and facilities such as income tax exemptions, plots of land, properties and buildings at concessional rents, free air time etc don't constitute funding.

 

The Nationalist Congress Party argued that the information regarding donors to the political parties might be used to threaten the donors. The donor would be intimidated by the rival political parties, it said and added that the RTI will add burden to the political parties. The party also feared that huge machinery involving a lot of manpower would be required to deal with RTIs, if political parties are made public authorities. The parties also argued that bodies or organizations created by government notification can be brought under RTI. The Congress did not respond despite two notices issued by the CIC.

 

The ADR in its arguments said that the political parties are supposed to be the democratic institutions and they should share information with public at large. It said that democracy and transparency are synonymous. It also said that political parties have a lot to hide and that's why they are dodging from coming under RTI. The ADR also stated that even those bodies can be brought under RTI which have been created without government's notification. It gave the example of NGOs that are created without any notification but have been brought under RTI in cases where they receive substantial government funding.

 

The ADR also said that the RTI Act would not apply to any organization or body in the country, if one accepts the excuse of the political parties that they cannot implement RTI because it requires huge machinery and manpower. The ADR also said that parties get enormous financing from the government in the form of tax-exemptions, land, buildings etc. It has also been found from RTI's responses of the Income Tax department that parties have also been getting funds from abroad. Also, there are court and IC rulings that financing is not judged by percentage but seen in a barometer whether its pittance or not.

 

The full bench, comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra and Commissioners ML Sharma and Annapurna Dikshit conducted the hearing on August 26, 2012 and November 1, 2012.on the matter whether "political parties should be declared as public authorities and brought under the purview of RTI". Barring the Congress party, all major recognized national political parties CPI(M), NCP, BSP and BJP sent their representatives to argue their respective cases. The CPI is the only party which said that it is a public authority and provided information related to its income and donors.

 

The major source of the income of political parties in India is through donations and voluntary contributions. However, majority donations come from undisclosed contributors. According to a study by the ADR, the top five political parties with the highest total income between financial year (FY) 2004-05 and FY 2010-11 (last 7 years) are the Congress with Rs 2008 crore followed by BJP with Rs 994 crore, BSP - Rs 484 crore, CPI(M) - Rs 417 crore and SP - Rs 279 crore. Between 80-90% of the income of parties was through donations from unnamed sources. The Congress topped the list of anonymous donors.

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Press Note

 

The full bench, comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyanand Mishra and Commissioners M L Sharma and Annapurna Dikshit, of Central Information Commission (CIC) conducted the second hearing (first hearing was on 26th August, 2012) on Thursday 1st November, 2012 on the matter whether “political parties should be declared as public authorities and brought under the purview of RTI”. Except Indian National Congress (INC), all recognized national political parties i.e. CPI(M), NCP, BSP and BJP sent their representatives to argue their respective cases. CPI’s view had already been presented in the first hearing by Mr. D. Raja, the Rajya Sabha member.

Vehement Opposition from all political parties

 

·Disclosure of donors’ information dangerous for them: NCP said that the information regarding the donors to the political parties might be used to threaten the donors. The donor would be intimidated by the rival political parties.

·RTI will add burden to the political party: NCP also feared that huge machinery involving lots of manpower would be needed to cater the responses of RTIs, if political parties are made public authorities.

·No funding whatsoever: BSP deposed that no amount of funding direct or indirect in provided to the party from the government. The party’s representative said the facilities such as income tax exemptions, plots of land, properties and buildings at concessional rents, free air time and other facilities don’t constitute funding.

·No substantial funding: NCP expressed in front of the commission that the value of financing provided by the government to the political party is just a minute percentage of the overall income of the party.

·Inner party discussions can’t be revealed: CPI(M) expressed its worry over making public the information pertaining to the inner party discussions. The party said that this type of information if goes outside the party will be detrimental to the party’s interests.

·Government’s notification needed: BSP contended that for a body or an organization to be brought under RTI that body or organization has to be created by a government’s notification.

·Political parties were never supposed to be under RTI: BJP and CPI(M) came up with a curious argument that intent of legislature while legislating the RTI ACT was never to bring political parties under the jurisdiction of the act.

 

ADR’s arguments

 

·Democracy and opaqueness can’t go hand in hand: Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) said that the political parties are supposed to be the democratic institutions and there is should be no information with the parties that can’t be revealed to public at large. He also said that democracy and transparency are synonymous. He also said that political parties have a lot to hide and that’s why they are dodging from coming under RTI.

·No notification required: ADR stated that even those bodies can be brought under RTI which have been created without any government’s notification. He gave the specific example of NGOs that are created without any notification but have been brought under RTI in cases where they receive substantial government funding.

·RTI burden on political parties? : ADR also said that if political parties are opposing from coming under RTI because they would need to put in place a machinery to respond to the RTIs then by that logic this RTI Act would not have been applied to any organization or body.

·Substantial financing is just ‘non-trivial’: ADR said that there are several judgments by various Courts and Information Commissions that have made this tenet that substantial financing is not judged by a quantum or percentage, but is seen in a barometer whether its pittance or not.

·Political parties receive huge funds: ADR also revealed that political parties get enormous financing from the government in the form of tax-exemptions, plots of land, properties and buildings etc. Even all the possible kinds of government financing of political parties are unknown.

·Political parties get foreign funding: ADR also stated that in the RTI’s responses from the Income Tax Department it has been observed that political parties have also been getting foreign funding. Recently, Election Commission of India took observation of such cases.

 

Judgment Reserved

 

The hearing in the matter has ended and judgment has been reserved by the full bench of Central Information Commission.

 

 

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