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  1. 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
  2. Hello, Friends I would to write an RTI application to Election commission of India regarding change of councillors to another political party without consulting the voters who voted them, i need you help to add what kind of question to election commission to get a detailed answer.
  3. D.T.RATHAVA

    political parties and rti

    All are together when public one side
  4. In a brazen defiance of the Constitution, major political parties continue to ignore the RTI ruling.Read more at: Newslaundry ? RTI: Games Political Parties Play
  5. Dear Experts, The undersigned wants the opinion of the learned esteemed members of this August Forum about who has the jurisdiction of deciding regional political parties as public authority such as INLD, Haryana & Haryana Jan Hit Congress???? I had filed a RTI application before the INLD (Indian National Lok Dal) Haryana on 18th June 2013 seeking information under RTI Act 2005. The ILND did not provide any information. Filed Complaint under Section 18 of RTI Act 2005 to declare INLD, Haryana as a public authority under RTI Act 2005 by giving and proving a) it being substantially financed, b) doing public function and c) created and granted recognition by Government. The SIC vide its order forwarded to CIC by stating that since it is created with the recognition of Election Commission of India and as such the appropriate government is Central Government thus making it to be under CIC jurisdiction. (Copy Enclosed) The CIC, true to its style returned the forwarded Complaint of undersigned back to me informing that SIC, Haryana has the jurisdiction. (Copy of communication enclosed) Now, where do I go to get these political parties made accountable as far as RTI Act 2005 is concerned? Which Commission has the jurisdiction? Indian_National_Lok_Dal_CIC0001.pdf
  6. SIC’s notice to Political Parties [h=3]CM has failed to stick to his words[/h] Last week the J&K State Information Commission (SIC) issued notices to some political parties including National Conference asking them to clear their stand as to why they shouldn’t be brought under the ambit of J&K Right to Information Act. These notices were issued after some Jammu based RTI activists had filed a complaint under section 15 of J&K RTI Act 2009 in the State Information Commission (SIC) as they were not provided information under RTI by some renowned political parties of the state. The RTI activists had sought details under JK RTI Act 2009 about donations received by National Conference (NC), Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), Congress, Panthers Party and BJP. Out of these political parties, PDP was the only political party which had responded to the RTI query and others had chosen to remain mum over the said issue. The aggrieved information seekers finally knocked the doors of SIC which has now sought the counter reply from NC, Congress, Panthers Party and BJP. Background: On June 3rd 2013 the Central Information Commission (CIC) had declared many national political parties as “Public Authorities”. A Full Bench of the Commission headed by the then Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra held six parties -- Congress, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP -- to whom RTI queries were directed, fulfill the criteria of being public authorities under the Right to Information Act. Considered to be one the landmark judgments, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had ruled that political parties come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. As the CIC’s order had send shock waves within various political parties including Congress and BJP , on 12th August 2013 the Congress Party tabled RTI Amendment Bill 2013 in Lok Sabha to keep political parties out of RTI ambit. The Bill was deferred to the Winter Session of Parliament on September 3rd 2013 and on December 17, 2013 the Rajya Sabha Standing Committee on Law and Personnel tabled its report in the Parliament which reads as: "The committee considers the proposed amendment is a right step to address the issue once and for all. The committee, therefore, recommends for passing of the Bill". With this observation the CIC’s order got scuttled as the amendment would apply retrospectively i.e., from June 3rd 2013 , the date on which the CIC had issued the judgment declaring political parties as Public Authorities and bringing them under the provisions of the RTI law. Read More: SIC s notice to Political Parties Lastupdate:- Tue, 22 Jul 2014 18:30:00 GMT GreaterKashmir.com
  7. From an email received from Mr Venkatesh Nayak: Dear all, The Government of India has published in the Official Gazette the Terms of Reference (ToR) of the Special Investigation Team it has set up to investigate the issue of black money stashed abroad by Indians (2nd attachment). The setting up of the SIT amounts to a welcome reversal of previous government policy on this subject. The previous Government had opposed this direction despite a clear order from the Supreme Court in 2011. The SIT will be headed by Justice (Retd.) M B Shah with Justice Arijit Pasayat as Vice-Chair. The rest of the members are the same ex officio senior bureaucrats who were part of the High Level Committee set up by the previous Government to look into the cases of persons who were said to have stashed away money in foreign banks abroad. The Joint Secy. (Revenue) has been added to this list as Member Secretary of the SIT. This SIT is an outcome of the directions of the Hon'ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Ram Jethmalani and Ors. vs Union of India and Ors., (2011) 8 SCC 1- judgement delivered in July 2011. It is also interesting to note that with the exception of the retired judges and bureaucrats of the Finance Ministry, all other members are representatives of organisations notified under the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (RTI Act) which are not required to furnish any information other than that pertaining to allegations of corruption or violation of human rights.However, in my opinion, as the SIT has been set up by a notification of the Central Government and as it will be wholly financed by the same Government, it will be a public authority under the RTI Act. Terms of Reference seemingly omit an important Court direction: While going through the ToR, I found that a crucial direction given by the Supreme Court in July 2011 is missing form the Gazette notification published by the Central Government. On page 66 of its judgement the Apex Court had ordered two more things to be done by the SIT in addition to what it said on pages 38-42 (1st attachment): 1) that the SIT must take over the investigation of individuals with bank accounts in Liechtenstein as disclosed by Germany to India and expeditiously conduct the same; and 2) SIT should review concluded matters also to assess whether investigations have been thoroughly and properly conducted or not and if they conclude that there is scope for further investigation they should proceed further. On 01 May this year the Central Government had said that investigations had been concluded against 18 of the 26 individuals that had bank accounts in Liechtenstein. These names were received from Germany and investigation had concluded in 17 cases. No evidence was found against 8 individuals and the investigation had been concluded against them. You will find this information in the daily order of the Apex Court at: http://judis.nic.in/temp/17620093152014p.txt So technically the ToR should have included reopening of these cases also to assess whether everything was properly done and if there is any need to proceed further. The current ToR published in the Gazette do not explicitly refer to these two directions. However I hope the SIT in its wisdom will interpret its mandate broadly to cover these directions as well and make up for what probably is an omission due to oversight. Importance of this case to RTI Readers who have gone through the Supreme Court's judgement and those who may like to read it now, will notice that this appeal case arose from an RTI application made by the Petitioners to disclose the names of the bank accountholders that Germany handed over to the Central Government. The previous Government adamantly refused to follow the directions of the Court to hand over to the Petitioners the names of individuals against whom investigations had been completed wholly or partially. Last month the Government handed over two sealed envelopes containing the names of the accountholders to the Court. The Court again directed that the names be handed over to the Petitioners. These names have not been made public by the Government, officially, till date. There is no reference to this direction in the ToR of the SIT either. The NDA Government could change policy in this regard as well and publicise the names contained in the sealed envelopes, as it would only be dutifully following the directions of the Court. Such a step would demonstrate the NDA Government's commitment to transparency as a real one going beyond mere public relations exercises. This case is also of great use for all RTI users and activists who receive rejection orders from Public Information Officers (PIOs) and First Appellate Authorities on the ground that contracts with private parties contain confidentiality clauses and cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act. In this case also the Government of India, under the United Progressive Alliance, refused to make the names of the accountholders public saying that Germany had handed over their names to Indian authorities under a tax agreement that contains a 'confidentiality' clause. The Apex Court examined the relevant clause of the treaty and came to the following conclusion: 1) that the tax agreement did not prohibit disclosure of information provided by one signatory to another if it was required in a judicial proceeding; and 2) that confidentiality clauses contained in international treaties and agreements are not to be interpreted as set in stone. Instead they must be tested against the concept and practice of the rule of law guaranteed by the Indian Constitution and most importantly the right to freedom of speech and expression guaranteed under Article 19(1) and the right to seek redress for violation of fundamental rights guaranteed under Article 32 of the Constitution. The confidentiality clause would be tolerated only if it matched any of the grounds mentioned in Article 19(2) for imposing reasonable restrictions on the citizens' right to freedom of speech and expression. As RTI is a deemed fundamental right under Article 19(1)(a), it can also be restricted only on grounds mentioned in Article 19(2) and the RTI Act but no other ground would be valid. Readers will recognise that the Indian Government signs bilateral or multilateral treaties and agreements in exercise of its sovereign functions. When confidentiality clauses contained in such agreements are subject to the fundamental right to free speech and expression and consequently RTI, confidentilaity clauses contained in commercial agreements with private parties that public authorities enter into during the routine course of government business must also be interpreted along the same lines. The mere existence of a 'confidentiality' clause in a contract with one or more private parties is not enough to reject a request for copies of the contract under the RTI Act. This is a landmark interpretation of the Apex Court and if applied in letter and spirit can open up to public scrutiny a whole range of contracts and agreements that the Government signs with private parties. Public-Private Partnership (PPPs) agreements would have to meet this test before the public authority concerned can refuse access to such agreements. I hope readers will watch with great interest how transparently the SIT will be functioning in the days to come. Kindly circulate this email widely. Thanks RamJethmalni-v-UnionofIndia-SCI-Jul11.pdf BlackMoney-SIT-ToR-May14.pdf
  8. Tax returns of political parties can be made public By T. N. Pandey in the Hindu ----------------------------------------------------------------------- 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 I-T authorities. ----------------------------------------------------------------------- Section 13A of the Income-Tax Act, 1961 is a special provision relating to income of political parties, which mean parties registered under Section 29A of the Representation of People Act, 1951 (RPA), vide this section, income of political parties from (i) house properties; (ii) income from other sources; (iii) capital gains; and (iv) income by way of voluntary contributions received from any person, are exempt from income-tax provided: Such political parties keep and maintain books of accounts and other documents as would enable the assessing officer (AO) to properly deduce income therefrom; For voluntary contributions, in excess of Rs 20,000, the political parties maintain a record of such contributions with the name and address of the contributors, who have made the contributions; The accounts of such parties are audited by chartered accountants. The exemption gets forfeited if a political party fails to submit a report under Section 29C(3) of the RPA for a financial year. Demand under RIA The Right to Information Act (RIA) is applicable in respect of public authorities established, owned or substantially financed by the Central Government, the State Governments, Union Territories, including panchayats, municipalities and other local bodies. It extends to the whole of India except Jammu and Kashmir. The I-T Department is certainly a department of the Central Government and, therefore, comes within the purview of the RIA. According to Section 2(j) of the RIA, 'right to information' means the right to information accessible under the Act, which is held by or under the control of any public authority and, inter alia, includes taking notes, extracts, or certified copies of documents and records available with the specified authorities. Income-tax returns would fall in this category, where right of inspection or asking for certified copies can be exercised. Section 8 of the RIA enumerates situations where exemption can be claimed in respect of the information in the possession of an authority on an application made to it under the provisions of the RIA. Returns of political parties Can exemption be claimed by the I-T Department with regard to returns filed by the political parties? This issue came in for the consideration of the Central Information Commission (CIC) in the Ms Anumeha, C/o Association for Democratic Reforms vs Chief CIT (CIC/AT/A-200701029, 01263 TO 1270 dated April 29, 08) case (reported in Vol.-12, Part-I of Corporate Professionals Today of May 1-15, 2008). In the application filed under the RIA, the argument for getting the information was that since political parties exercise power, transparency in their organisation, functions and, more particularly, their means of funding is a democratic imperative and, therefore, it is in public interest that the income-tax returns of political parties, insofar as they contain funding details, should be disclosed. This view has been accepted by the Commission. The view expressed by the Commission is 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 I-T authorities. This is about the closest political parties get to accounting for the sources and the extent of their funding and expenditure. There is unmistakable public interest in knowing these funding details, which would enable citizens to make an informed choice about the political parties to vote for. The RIA emphasises that "democracy requires an informed citizen" and that transparency of information is vital to flawless functioning of constitutional democracy. It can be nobody's case that while all organs of the state must exhibit maximum transparency, no such obligation attaches to political parties. Given that political parties exercise power, transparency in their organisation, functions and, more particularly, their means of funding, is essential and, therefore, is public interest. However, a safeguard has been provided in the matter of furnishing the information. Though the I-T returns of political parties regarding the funding details are liable for disclosure, there should be no disclosure of PAN of such parties in view of possibility of fraudulent use of such disclosure. (The author is a former chairman of CBDT.) The Hindu Business Line : Tax returns of political parties can be made public
  9. sidmis

    Cheques, balances

    Cheques, balances EXPRESS EDITORIAL, Saturday, June 14, 2008 RTI scrutiny of political parties’ funds should remove doubts about large private funding An RTI application about significant donations to the Congress and the BJP has predictably brought interesting revelations. For instance, Dow Chemicals, an American company that acquired Union Carbide and is facing demands for greater compensation for the 1984 Bhopal gas leak, gave Rs 1 lakh to the BJP, which rules Madhya Pradesh. The fickleness of Goa’s politicians is reflected in a curious way: the very same local companies fund both parties. All this is, however, not just grist for the trivia-hunter’s mill. In showing how the public is now empowered by the Right to Information legislation to scrutinise political contributions, this instance should also remove cynicism about encouraging political parties to generate funds from the public, including corporates. Every narrative that seeks to get to the root of corruption in India lingers extraordinarily long at one factor: political parties’ need for huge amounts of money to fund electoral campaigns. The magnitude of funds spent every election is by any realistic estimate greatly more than the limits prescribed by the Election Commission. This reality periodically elicits demands for consideration of state funding of elections. But state funding is difficult, not least because, given the many layers of elections in our parliamentary and grassroots democracy, the monies needed would be inordinately more than what can be considered an optimum state contribution. Moreover, state funding models work better in two-party systems. In our crowded politics, these models would disadvantage small parties, which are forever coming up, sometimes to reflect thus far hushed social aspirations. How then to clean up our electioneering? There are good reasons why there is public doubt about corporate funding, the most important being concern about quid pro quos. Yet, given the yawning gap between money spent and money accounted for, clearly funds are acquired by political parties and candidates from somewhere and by some means, none of which is in any way healthy. The need is for these contributions to be brought onto the account books of parties. The RTI mechanism has already shown itself to be strong enough to allow public scrutiny — of funds and the executive decisions involving donors of those funds. Besides, the new economy is already narrowing the dark spaces where shadowy transactions can take place. Together, these developments should change the cynical attitude towards unlimited private contributions to political parties. Also, remember, by funding political parties, we the people become stakeholders in organisations democratically empowered to take decisions on our behalf. editor@expressindia.com IndianExpress.com :: Cheques, balances
  10. The Central Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that a communication between the President of India and the leader of a political party and any correspondence between them concerning formation of a Government is protected from disclosure as such information is exchanged in confidence and is politically sensitive in nature. Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said that an information which is sensitive in nature, and if the public interest warrants preservation of confidentiality, is protected from disclosure under the provisions of the RTI Act. The ruling came on an appeal filed by one Milap Choraria of Delhi who had made an application to President’s Secretariat asking for copies of all communications addressed to the President following the 14th general elections containing various suggestions on the formation of the Government including the letter forwarded by Sonia Gandhi. The President’s Secretariat refused to disclose the information on the grounds that these are confidential documents and held by the President of India in his fiduciary relationship and therefore is exempted from disclosure. However, the appellant contended that the information relates to larger public interest and it is not protected under fiduciary relationship as it does not relate to any monetary or other transactions or correspondence between the two individuals relating to their personal relationships . Rejecting the appeal, the Commission said: “Sensitivity of the information and the necessity to preserve confidentiality should be treated as the deciding factors for determining the ambit and scope of the term ‘fiduciary relationship.’ If read in the context of objectives of the RTI Act, which seeks to harmonise the conflicting interests of transparency vis-a-vis efficient operations of the Government, while preserving the paramountcy of the democratic ideals, there is no doubt that the communication between the President of India and a leader of a political party concerning formation of a Government is information exchanged in confidence and politically sensitive in nature. Therefore such information comes within the ambit of Section 8 (1)(e) and hence has to be held as exempted from disclosure”. New Delhi, Wednesday, November 21, 2007 IndianExpress.com :: President-parties letters on govt formation confidential
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