Jump to content

Atul Patankar
 Share

Recommended Posts

RTI is the biggest threat to democracy

 

Reported by G sampat inlivemint.com on June 07, 2013

RTI is the biggest threat to democracy - Livemint

 

The preposterous order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) bringing political parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act is a frontal attack on democracy that deserves to be condemned in the strongest terms. Our reputable political parties, who have been at the receiving end of this legislation whenever they have formed or been a part of a government, are understandably concerned at this brazen attempt to drag them into the pit of transparency and accountability.

The biggest problem with the CIC ruling, in the words of RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal is that it “will increase transparency in political parties, which, in turn, may help in curbing things like scams and corruption cases.”

Evidently, the assumption is that financial transparency of political parties is a good thing. If you take the six national parties that have been brought under RTI by the CIC ruling—the Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist) CPI (M), the Communist Party of India, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)—as of today, none of them provide details about party finances. A voter has no way of knowing where they get their money from, which businessman or arms-dealer or poverty-stricken Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme (MGNREGS) labourer contributes how much to which party, how the money is spent, how much the office-bearers are paid, etc.

But then, does he really need to know all this information? In any case, how can a citizen who gives nothing to a political party except his vote—just one vote—expect the same level of accountability from it as someone else who contributes his vote plus, say, Rs.40 crore? Won’t political parties then be forced to ignore those who have contributed hundreds of crores in expectation of some return in the form of a lucrative contract or policy change or regulatory clearance? How can a democracy function with such excessive transparency?

As a matter of fact, if only this whole RTI nonsense had been nipped in the bud, the Adarsh scam may never have become public, nor the Commonwealth Games scam nor the 2G scam nor the scores of other scams that barely merit a media mention because the amounts involved are not comparable with the mega-scams.

And we all know how disruptive these corruption scandals can be, for they caused serious discomfort to the democratically elected UPA government. Can we then fault the Congress general secretary Janardhan Dwivedi for correctly pointing out that the CIC ruling “will create a lot of harm and damage to democratic institutions”? Do we want our political parties also to be subjected to such damage wrought by RTI cowboys filing query after query in their quest for the next big scam?

The ostensible logic behind the CIC ruling is that political parties should be subject to public scrutiny as they are beneficiaries of the state’s largesse. According to the petitioner, the New Delhi-based Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), the Congress and the BJP alone have received subsidies from the government worth Rs.255 crore. Plus they get free air time on Doordarshan and All India Radio, not to mention substantial income-tax exemptions. While all this could be true, it would be absurd to argue that this renders political parties answerable to the taxpayer whose money is subsidizing them.

As we all know, a citizen’s duty in a democracy begins and ends with the casting of his or her vote once in five years or whenever elections are held. Any political engagement beyond that is a threat to democracy. We have already seen what a nuisance these so-called civil society groups are turning out to be. It is high time we brand all of them as terrorists and put them behind bars on cooked up cases. What we do not want to do is strengthen their hands by allowing the manufacture of fresh ammunition for the RTI weapon, for that is what this CIC ruling amounts to.

Our national parties have responded with admirable courage to a populist order coming at a time when the national mood seems to be marked by an unseemly and rather childish hostility to corruption. The Congress, to its credit, has never failed to take credit for RTI, despite having suffered tremendous harassment as a result of this legislation. The BJP, obviously as a matter of principle, refused to respond to an RTI application from ADR seeking full information about its funding and assets. As for the NCP and the BSP, fortunately, neither the squeaky clean Sharad Pawar nor the incorruptible Mayawati has anything to worry from the order. But that doesn’t mean that they won’t oppose it in order to safeguard our democracy and national security.

The CPI-M, as you’d expect from a party driven by ideas, has criticized the order as being based “on a fundamental misconception about the role of political parties in a parliamentary democracy”. This is a fair and insightful comment, for CIC mistakenly assumes that political parties are accountable to the citizens they claim to represent, forgetting that they are accountable only to themselves and their donors.

All said and done, we must never forget that in a true democracy like ours, transparency and accountability are strictly for the common man, just as privacy and secrecy are strictly for the state, corporates, and allied public and private institutions. Our political parties must, therefore, be congratulated for taking a principled and moral stand against an adventurist interpretation of a dangerous legislation that is threatening to unravel the fabric of impunity that holds together the political fabric of the nation.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Replies 235
  • Created
  • Last Reply

Top Posters In This Topic

  • karira

    46

  • Sajib Nandi

    43

  • digal

    13

  • akhilesh yadav

    90

Top Posters In This Topic

Posted Images

Oh, tell us Daddy! - Hindustan Times

Reported by Indrajit Hazra in hindustantimes.com On June 09, 2013

 

Oh, tell us Daddy!

 

There's a stage in a person's life when he can get curious about how he came into this world. I'm told that most people with such a query first ask the person closest to them, which is usually a parent. The query is about how humans are born. But to a child, the question becomes specific: How did you [parents] get me?

 

I never did ask my parents - or, for that matter, anyone else - this supposedly primal question. I crawled towards the answer over years by ruffling through books that included my gynaecologist grandfather's colour-plated tomes (that put me off fruits forever) and then later my school biology textbooks. But I've heard about other youngsters being told at some stage about how a stork had brought them, or how they popped out of their mother's stomach, or how they came in a box after their parents had ordered for them in a store, or in one case, how the person was brought in from the Calcutta Corporation office.

 

Only some parents give the kid the whole shebang about daddy and mummy going through the triple combo of coitus, conception and childbirth. If the Right to Information (RTI) Act covered this awkward terrain, parents would have been bound to disclose some 'unnecessary' details about the Triple-C procedure. So most parents, I reckon, are grateful that such facts of life do not fall under the RTI for the benefit of some curious twat.

 

While India's people are slowly but surely getting out of the notion that their relationship with the State and its various apparati is not a guardian-ward one, the State and its various apparati that include political parties (not to mention entities mimicking the State such as the Board of Control for Cricket in India) still see themselves as ma-baap entities doing what's 'best for their children'.

 

So when last week, the statutory body of the Central Information Commission (CIC) issued an order that six political parties come under the purview of the RTI, the guardians not only saw this as an attack on sacred filial bonds, but also as the laying out of a welcome mat to the destruction of democracy. As Congress general secretary Janardan Dwivedi put it like an outraged tau, "Such an adventurist approach will create a lot of harm and damage to democratic institutions... Getting political parties entangled in such unnecessary things will damage the democratic process." You're forgiven for thinking that this is a father railing about a school's decision to teach sex education to kids.

 

The issue of the CIC bringing political parties under the purview of the RTI Act, thereby allowing applicants from the citizenry to ask questions regarding functional or financial matters of a party, has been seen as political overreach by politicians and a few, pardon my French, political structuralists. After all, in a climate based on trust - the lynchpin around which the eternal relationship between the ma-baap and the ladka-ladki revolves in our democracy - to allow such queries is to breed mistrust.

 

The problem with this today-it's-about-political-parties-tomorrow-it'll-be-about-your-dinner-parties argument is that a critical mass of Indians don't trust political parties any more. Having an RTI to get valid queries - their validity as defined by the Act - answered isn't as much as an attempt to expose political parties as it is to get them to talk more easily about themselves with 'their' people. To write off such 'unnecessary' ('adolescent') questioning as being the devil's tool to be used only by (Maoist-sympathising?) politically-motivated bounders is like wanting traffic laws scrapped because there are corrupt cops out there on the streets haranguing people so as to make an extra buck.

 

The wranglings over whether the CIC is right or not in considering political parties as being non-government organisations "substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds" provided by the government - and therefore eligible to stand under the RTI's viewfinder - is as theological as deciding how many angels a politician should have as part of his security posse. The CPI(M) even used this opportunity to not only tell everyone that "the bulk of the funding and finances for the parties do not come from the government or any State institution" but also to advertise that "the CPI(M) does not even accept funds from the corporates which is legally permissible" - thereby answering what could have been a nice, future RTI query: 'Does the CPI(M) accept funds from corporates?'

 

Political parties want everyone to believe that coming under the RTI means some Sacch Ka Saamna-style sub-third degree 'accountability' torture routine being inflicted on them and 'democracy'. There are other institutions such as the Election Commission and Income Tax Department for all that. By the very gesture of refusing to be part of any information-seeking mechanism regarding party functioning, finances and other matters even more opaque than Karunanidhi's glasses, India's political class and viziers have let out one uncomfortable truth: they don't want the 'aam bacche log' to question their 'pitashri-matashri' authority. And they certainly don't want to be asked uncomfortable questions - not about where they came from, but about where they're headed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

No move to amend RTI Act for immunity to pol parties: Govt

 

Reported by Zeenews.india.com on June 09, 2013

No move to amend RTI Act for immunity to political parties: Govt

 

New Delhi: The Government is not considering amending the RTI Act to give immunity to political parties from providing information after the recent CIC order brought them under the transparency law.

 

Officials in the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as nodal department for the implementation of RTI Act, said they have gone through the Central Information Commission's order and there was nothing that warranted their intervention.

 

"If a party is aggrieved by the CIC's order, they can always take remedy measure and may appeal against it before designated courts," a senior DoPT official said.

 

The official said the Ministry is willing to clarify in case of any ambiguity in the order.

 

"If a political party writes to us, we will certainly provide clarification on matters related to the Act," the official said.

 

In a landmark ruling, the CIC had on June 3 held that political parties are public authorities and answerable to citizens under RTI Act.

 

The Commission had said six national parties-Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP-have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and they have the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they perform public functions.

 

The Centre's flagship Right to Information Act empowers a citizen to seek time-bound information on all matters of governance by paying a fee of Rs 10.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Amendment to IT Act better than RTI for transparency: Tewari

 

Reported by Thehindu.com on June 9, 2013

Amendment to IT Act better than RTI for transparency: Tewari | The Hindu

 

Dismissing the CIC order on bringing parties under the RTI Act, Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari has said an amendment to the Income Tax Act would work better towards bringing transparency.

 

Congress has already rejected the CIC order, terming it as an “adventurist” approach that would “harm” democratic institutions,

 

Asked what was the party scared of if it is subjected to RTI, MR. Tewari told Karan Thapar on Devil’s Advocate programme on CNN-IBN, “I think you need to make a distinction out here. All donations which are above Rs 20,000, the donors are revealed to the Income Tax authorities.”

 

On claims that most of their donations come under Rs 20,000, so they are hidden, he said, “Look at it in a broader perspective. Look at a party which has a presence across 6, 30,000 villages in this country...So, you have a lot of small donors who contribute out of political conviction.”

 

Asked why the donations cannot be revealed to the country, the Minister said, “For that you don’t need the RTI. All that you need to do is make an amendment to the Income Tax Act.”

 

On June 3, the Central Information Commission had held that political parties are answerable under the Right to Information Act.

 

A full bench of the Commission comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners M L Sharma and Annapurna Dixit had stated that six parties -- Congress, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP -- to whom RTI queries were directed, fulfilled the criteria of being public authorities under the Right to Information Act.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CIC passed historical decission that all political parties under RTi .but it is dispointing that most political parties criticised the decission. actually they can not faced any decission which affect them directly. UPA @ congress passed RTI act but it is tough time for themselves.however samajwadi party welcome the decission. I welcome to Mr. subhash agarwal RTI activist who file such important RTI.It is necessary for us to file important RTi which gave transparancy in system.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Forked tongue: Parties supported RTI in 2005, lambast it now

Reported by Himanshi Dhawan in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on June 11, 2013

Forked tongue: Parties supported RTI in 2005, lambast it now - The Times of India

 

NEW DELHI: The Right to Information Act has become a thorn for all political parties judging by their strong objections to the Central Information Commission (CIC) order bringing these parties within the RTI Act. This is in sharp contrast to the high praise they showered on the legislation when it was debated and passed in May 2005. A look at the Parliament debates shows that Congress leaders lionized the Act, while every party, barring the NDA parties which had walked out of the debate, supported it. This leads one to assume: The law is good so long it doesn't apply to us. Here are some snatches of the 2005 debate. The contrast between the position of the parties then and now couldn't be starker.

 

Manmohan Singh (intervening): The key to the successful functioning of any democratic polity is the ability of a citizen to observe and evaluate the functioning of the elected representative and make an informed judgment of their performance. This evaluation is predicate to the easy availability of the necessary information for a citizen to arrive at an assessment...At the centre of this intricate web is the common man, the "aam aadmi'' whose prosperity and welfare is the core concern of our Constitution.

 

Suresh Pachauri (who piloted the bill): I have no hesitation to say that a new era full of accountability and responsibility is going to begin...The UPA government intends to handover the keys of democracy to the people. We do not want to hide any information from the people which in the national interest... The question is not whether to grant this right to citizens, but how elaborately and how extensively.

 

Anand Sharma: There has been much public debate on accountability at various levels. When we talk of accountability, even the legislature has accountability, because the people who sit in this legislature are representatives of the people, they are accountable to the people.

 

Ashwani Kumar: It (RTI Act) recognizes at long last that an open society alone is consistent and compatible with democratic governance, that an open society will be an objective that would not be realized if there was not genuine and reasonable avenue of information collection, and that participatory democracy would remain a far cry for an ordinary individual if the government itself did not make it legally obligatory for those who the institutions of governance to provide the information necessary for decision making.

 

Milind Deora: This bill is empowerment of one billion Indians to make them free; to allow them a great deal of autonomy, a great deal of transparency and more importantly, access to accountability, which in my opinion, has not been there are for many years in India...This bill will strengthen the process and delivery of procedural justice, which often precedes social justice...This bill has the power to completely transform India.

 

Jairam Ramesh: The problem in our system is the culture of secrecy. There is a cult of secrecy in our system, and the starting point of this cult is the Third schedule of the Constitution. It is the oath of secrecy.

 

Sachin Pilot: This bill is capable of bringing a revolution in the entire country and society....The government which wants to hide something from the people and does not want to bring transparency in its working style need not introduce such kind of bill, but this government has the courage to bring such a strong bill.

 

Ram Jethmalani: PM has said information can be misused. I do not agree. True information can never be misused. False information may be.

 

Alok Kumar Mehta (RJD): Many examples of corruption and immorality under the cover of secrecy can be observed in many places....I would like to tell when Shri George Fernandes was minister of defence, Tehelka episode ocured, many things were put under the carpet in the name of secrecy. All this happened on the pretext of secrecy. Therefore the process of making information public should be made more meaningful.

 

Ram Kirpal Yadav (RJD): This (RTI Act) will strengthen democracy and increase the participation of the common people and this will certainly enable us to seek the information that used to be concealed in the name of maintaining secrecy. The public will no longer remain deprived of their rights which had been taken away from them in one or another manner.

 

S Sudhakar Reddy (CPM): I congratulate the government for brining in a very revolutionary bill on the right to information, which will bring a lot of changes in our democracy. Information is the oxygen of democracy, and the functioning of democracy...

 

Shailendra Kumar (SP): We will have to ponder over bringing transparency in the RTI. Through this bill we will have to particularly think about the illiterate, poor, starved, homeless, exploited labourers, trials, dalits and monads of our society and country.

 

P R Senthil (PMK): I hope that our bureaucracy, which has been more than a stumbling block for development, would become more responsible (after the RTI Act), more accountable and more importantly, more responsive.

 

R Shunmugasundaram (DMK): Lack of transparency is the main cause of all pervading corruption. Right to information would lead to openness, accountability and integrity. Barrier to information breeds corruption, will facilitate clandestine deals, arbitrary decisions, manipulations and embezzlement.

 

N P Durga (TDP): Access to government records and information is an essential requirement for modern government and the right to information is the bedrock of democracy which can pave the way for transparency, openness and accountability in governance of the affairs of the state and ensure effective participation of the people in a democratic society.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

By Sachidananda Murthy in Week.manoramaonline.com on June 10, 2013

The Week | Running from RTI

 

Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar must have been amused by the rare show of unanimity among political parties refusing to comply with the Right to Information Act. She has been trying in vain for many months to bring unity among the major players in the Lok Sabha to ensure that Parliament runs smoothly. But the unanimity of the political class against the intrusion into their style of functioning was expected. After all, judges are reluctant to allow RTI access to the way the Supreme Court and High Courts function. Many governmental agencies like the armed forces, paramilitary, CBI and Enforcement Directorate do not want to come in the sights of RTI activists.

 

Some time ago, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had spoken about how a transparency revolution was sweeping the country and everyone had to face the new reality. Recently, retired CAG Vinod Rai said the bureaucracy had failed to adapt to the tsunami that was RTI. He said the government, from the Prime Minister downward, was asking questions about the activist CAG, but the rules of the governance game were changed when information became a right during UPA I.

 

Yet there are concerns about whether the Central Information Commission has gone too far in declaring the six national parties as “public authorities”. The commission has relied on the fact that political donations are exempt from income tax and also the parties get land and other benefits from the government.

 

Parties now give details of corporate donations to the Election Commission, but do not disclose details of how they spend their money, especially on travel and other allowances of their senior leaders.

 

Interestingly, there have been many cases in the Supreme Court on whether an organisation can be described as part of the “state”. The court has held that the term “state”, which means accountability to Parliament and state Assemblies, is applicable to only institutions which are owned or controlled in some manner by the government. There can be writ petitions against institutions deemed as part of the "state" to enforce rights and obligations by any citizen or group of citizens. In fact, the income tax and other tax departments have been trying to apply these definitions to some institutions, but the courts have been strict.

 

However, the Central Information Commission has gone beyond the legal interpretation. Therefore, the office bearers, members and employees of political parties may be deemed to be public servants and can come under the jurisdiction of investigative agencies.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Reported by Nagendar sharma in hindustantimes.com on June 28, 2013

Government set to keep political parties out of RTI - Hindustan Times

 

Government set to keep political parties out of RTI

 

Political parties have come together to shut the door on sharing information with citizens and the government, buoyed by the near-consensus among the political class, is planning changes to the Right to Information Act.

It may take the amendment route or even promulgate an ordinance to keep political parties out of the ambit of the information act.

The amendments to the act 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 department for personnel and training, which deals with all matters RTI, has received the first draft of the proposed ordinance from the law ministry.

The government will pick 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 critical of the ruling, but hesitated taking steps against the order. It now seems to have shed its inhibitions.

The changes proposed, it is learnt, 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.

An explanation might be added to the act that political parties are an association of individuals and the transparency law is not aimed at disturbing the functioning of the parties.

List of organisations exempt from providing information under the RTI act is expected to change as well.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

sUB: To shield political parties, Govt. to amend RTI provisions.

 

On 3rd June the CIC said six major political parties fall within the ambit of RTI. This decision was welcomed by BJP. However, other political parties specially Congress, CPI M etc. opposed the move. This issue was gaining momentum. It has been gathered that the Deptt. of Personnel and Training which is responsible for all RTI related matters, has received the first draft of the proposed ordinance from the law Ministry, which seeks to exempt political parties from the transparency law.

 

The RTI Act 2005 is a powerful act and it is a fact that due to implementation of the RTI Act 2005 and its relevant provisions, to a large extent general public used to get almost correct information, which in turn acted as a barrier in corrupt activities of the P.As. It is a matter of debate why the major political parties are opposing the provisions of the RTI Act 2005 relevant to their matters, if they act prudently. It means that those opposing the provisions of the Act do not function in a prudent way, resulting in this obstacle in the way of implementing the RTI Act 2005 in a uniform/HOLISTIC way, though these major parties cover Sec. 2(h) of the Act. It has been gathered that Congress ( main Ruling front) is opposing implementing the provisions of the RTI Act 2005. Why ? These recent scams which were revealed in the recent past - who were the main beneficiary. Some of the bigwigs whose wealth is disproportionate to the known sources of income. If we read the move to amend the provisions and the inner meaning in between lines, everybody will get a real answer for the opposing the move by some of the political parties.

 

As a genuine citizen of India, I urge the Govt. not to proceed with the proposed ordinance and dilute the provisions of the powerful act. If the political parties are functioning within the provisions of the law of the land - to whom they are afraid of ? This matter may kindly be debated by forum members and communicate their view to the DoPT before announcing any ordinance in this regard.

 

I request Shri Kariraji may kindly communicate the views of the forum members in this regard in order not to damage the powerful act.

 

MOHANDAS

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.

.

 

As reported at outlook india.com

New Delhi | Jun 28, 2013

Govt Mulling Ordinance to Keep Political Parties Out of RTI

 

Govt Mulling Ordinance to Keep Political Parties Out of RTI | news.outlookindia.com

 

 

 

Government is contemplating changes in the Right to Information Act to keep political parties out of its ambit, a move which will overturn an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) bringing six major parties within its purview.

 

With near unanimity among political parties on the issue, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) would work on a Cabinet Note to bring out an Ordinance to this effect.

 

But sources said much would depend on the timing of Monsoon session of Parliament and the possibility of a Special Session.

 

If there is a delay in Monsoon session or the proposed Special session does not take place, government could take the Ordinance route. Otherwise, it would bring official amendments to the RTI Act in the next session of Parliament.

 

There is a convention not to bring ordinance once the date of the session is announced. Officials said, this is only a convention which does not stop government from brining an ordinance.

 

The DoPT has obtained a draft ordinance from the Law Ministry to amend the Act, based on which it could prepare its proposal.

 

It is 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'.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

'

.

As reported at The Economic Times | Govt mulling changes in RTI Act to keep political parties out of ambit - The Economic Times

 

Govt mulling changes in RTI Act to keep political parties out of ambit

By PTI | 28 Jun, 2013, 09.58PM IST

 

NEW DELHI: Government is contemplating changes in the Right to Information Act to keep political parties out of its ambit, a move which will overturn an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) bringing six major parties within its purview.

 

With near unanimity among political parties on the issue, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) would work on a Cabinet Note to bring out an Ordinance to this effect.

 

But sources said much would depend on the timing of Monsoon session of Parliament and the possibility of a Special Session.

 

If there is a delay in Monsoon session or the proposed Special session does not take place, government could take the Ordinance route. Otherwise, it would bring official amendments to the RTI Act in the next session of Parliament.

 

There is a convention not to bring ordinance once the date of the session is announced. Officials said, this is only a convention which does not stop government from brining an ordinance.

 

The DoPT has obtained a draft ordinance from the Law Ministry to amend the Act, based on which it could prepare its proposal.

 

It is 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'.

 

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.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Govt considering ordinance to keep political parties out of RTI | NDTV.com

 

This is one move that the government will find little opposition to. It is considering an ordinance to supercede this month's order of the Central Information Commission bringing political parties under the Right to Information or RTI Act.

 

It is looking at changing the definition of "public authority" in the Act in a way that will exempt political parties. The ordinance, if brought, will be given effect retrospectively from before the date of the CIC's ruling.

 

The law ministry has sent a draft of the proposed ordinance to the department for personnel and training.

 

All political parties have argued that they are not government funded and are not public authorities and so should not be brought under the RTI Act, which seeks to make transparent all expenditure of public money and other details about public authorities that impact citizens. On record though, the parties say they are open to such scrutiny.

 

The CIC had ruled on June 3 that any written records can now be sought from any entity in a political party. This means that they would now have to share, if sought, details like who funds them, how they spend that money and even how they select candidates for elections.

 

The CIC held that political parties are "public authorities", have a "public character" and are "substantially funded by the government." It said that parties got land and big government-owned bungalows at deep discounts which amounts to getting "financial benefits." As does income tax exemptions granted to parties and free air time on All India Radio and Doordarshan at the time of elections, it held.

 

It also said that political parties "affect the lives of the citizens, directly or indirectly in every conceivable way and are continuously engaged in performing public duty. It is, therefore, important that they become accountable to public."

 

The CIC was ruling on a clutch of petitions filed by senior advocate and activist Prashant Bhushan and RTI activist Subhash Aggarwal among others.

 

Asked for his reaction, Mr Bhushan said, "The CIC ruling seems to have annoyed all parties, particularly the Congress. I will not be surprised if the ordinance is passed with the support of all parties. None of them believe in transparency. This ordinance will be challenged in court as unconstitutional."

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CPI becomes first party to respond to RTI application

 

 

Reported by Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Jul 1, 2013

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/CPI-becomes-first-party-to-respond-to-RTI-application/articleshow/20852845.cms

 

NEW DELHI: CPI has become the first political outfit to respond to an RTI application after a CIC order declared parties as public authorities but underlined that it does not come under the transparency law.

 

Responding to an RTI application, Communist Party of India has said it supplies information to I-T authorities and the Election Commission on regular basis and stands for "transparency of income and sources of income" and added that it has not appointed any Public Information Officer so far.

 

"According to our understanding, we are not yet part of Information Act. However, we reply to your queries," party General Secretary Sudhakar Reddy said.

 

Responding to an RTI petitioner who had sought to know the action taken on his write up by the party, Reddy said, "We have received your letter 'Baseless apprehension of Political parties on CIC verdict'. Did not we correspond with anybody on these letters. There is no necessity. We did not react to it as the very heading 'Baseless' is provocating and insulting, even without knowing what are our apprehensions, doubts, and objections (sic)."

 

In response to applicant SC Agrawal's query, CPI said it stands for transparency in income of political parties and supplied such information to CIC also.

 

"As for internal decisions, we are not prepared to share with outsiders. We feel it is degrading for political parties to declare that they function with financial help from government. It is an insult to parties and democracy. This is not a baseless apprehension. You have your opinion. We have our opinion. Let us agree to disagree," it said.

 

Acting on a petition of Association of Democratic Reforms, CIC had declared six political parties — Congress, BJP, NCP, BSP, CPI and CPI-M as public authorities under the RTI Act.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Transparency groups oppose attempts to dilute RTI Act

 

Reported by Madhavi Rajadhyaksha in Timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Jul 1, 2013

Transparency groups oppose attempts to dilute RTI Act - The Times of India

 

MUMBAI: Prominent transparency groups have come together to raise concern over the government's possible move to pass an ordinance amending the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The government's move is reportedly in response to a recent order by the Chief Information Commission mandating that political parties should be considered public authorities and that they be made liable to the transparency law.

 

The CIC order on June 3 had also directed six leading political parties to appoint public authorities.

 

"We believe that the CIC order will go a long way in ensuring transparency and accountability in the functioning of political parties. Inclusion of political parties under the RTI Act will ensure that parties are accountable to the people of the country," stated co-convenors of the National Campaign for Peoples Right to Information (NCPRI) Anjali Bhardwaj and Nikhil Dey amongst others. They pertinently pointed out that if the government or political parties had any objection to the CIC order, the appropriate response would be to challenge the order in court, not amend the law. "This only goes to show that when political parties themselves are subject to the transparency law, they are willing to go to the extent of amending this landmark legislation to ensure that they are not open to public scrutiny under the Act," stated the coalition.

 

Another joint statement issued by India Against Corruption convenor Arvind Kejriwal, and prominent social activists including Harsh Mander and Shailesh Gandhi too appealed to the government and all the political parties "to drop any consideration of amending the RTI act". "We are not aware of any emergency requiring such an Ordinance, and are confident no such move will be undertaken," they wrote in a joint statement.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reported by Ashok Pradhan in timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 06 July 2013

Parties get 45 days to solve RTI puzzle - The Times of India

 

Parties get 45 days to solve RTI puzzle

 

BHUBANESWAR: Odisha Information Commission (OIC) on Friday gave 45 days to regional political parties to reply to a petition, seeking their inclusion under the purview of RTI Act, 2005. The commission would hear the matter on August 23.

 

A full bench of the commission, comprising chief information commissioner T K Mishra, commissioners Jagadananda and Pramod Mohanty, said since the political parties could not be present during the hearing, they would be given 45 days.

 

The bench was hearing the June 7 plea of secretary, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), state unit, Bismay Mohapatra. "Notices will be issued to the political parties to reply on the matter," the commission pronounced.

 

The plea followed the Central Information Commission's June 3 ruling that all the six national political parties come under the purview of the RTI Act.

 

The AAP has sought a direction from OIC to regional political parties to designate public information officers in tune with the RTI Act. During the hearing, the AAP submitted that state-recognized political parties be declared public authorities under Section 2(h) of the Act as the parties are substantially financed by the Election Commission under rule 11 and 12 of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960.

 

Under these rules, the parties are provided two copies of the voters' list (one printed and another CD) free of cost.

 

Quoting the calculation of Association for Democratic Reforms, a civil society group working for transparency in politics, the AAP said each electoral roll per assembly constituency per candidate costs around Rs 56,525. According to it, the government spent Rs 83.09 lakh on Biju Janata Dal (BJD) for 147 constituencies.

 

In its 13-point submission before the commission, the outfit also contended that the political parties are public by nature as elections are contested on party basis and affect lives of citizens directly or indirectly. AAP leader Nishikant Mohapatra argued that political parties are a fit case to be declared public authorities as the state government has, through notification, brought NGOs, receiving state funding, under the ambit of RTI Act. The OIC's hearing on the matter came at a time when the UPA government is planning to promulgate an ordinance to exempt political parties from the transparency law's ambit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Immunity to pol parties: Inter-ministry talks to amend RTI Act

 

Reported by Business-standard.com on July 7, 2013

Immunity to pol parties: Inter-ministry talks to amend RTI Act | Business Standard

 

High-level consultations are on between officials of the Ministry of Personnel and Law to decide on amendments in Right to Information (RTI) Act to give immunity to political parties from providing information after a CIC order brought them under the transparency law.

 

Official sources said both the ministries were discussing the idea to amend the RTI Act and a final decision on this is likely to come out soon.

 

The move followed the objection by political parties to the order issued last month by the Central Information Commission (CIC) that said they are public authorities and answerable to citizens under RTI Act.

 

Sources said that government may opt for an ordinance route as the six-week deadlines given to these political parties by the CIC to appoint designate information officers and appellate authorities is ending on July 15.

 

The Commission had in its June 3 order said six national parties-- Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP-- have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and they have the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they perform public functions.

 

The Ministry of Law is understood to have shared a draft note with the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), which acts as a nodal department for implementation of the RTI Act, suggesting changes in the Act to give immunity to political parties, the sources said.

 

The government may propose amendments to Section 2 of the RTI Act to change definition of a public authority to shield political parties. Another option being considered by the government to include political parties in the list of exempted organisations (as mentioned in Section 8 of the Act), which include central security and intelligence agencies like RAW, IB, and CBI among others.

 

The Centre's flagship Right to Information Act empowers a citizen to seek time-bound information on all matters of governance by paying a fee of Rs 10.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • Super Moderator

As reported by Shonali Ghosal in tehelka.com on 03 July 2013:

No information, only politics|Shonali Ghosal

 

No Information, Only Politics

 

By refusing to come under the RTI Act, our political parties are showing what scares them most, says Shonali Ghosal

 

In a series of detrimental moves to curb the scope of the Right to Information (RTI) Act since its passing, comes the government’s latest suggestion: an ordinance to overturn the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) decision of 3 June, which held six political parties as public authorities, making them subject to the Act. Congress spokesperson Bhakta Charan Das says that “the consultation process is on and it may be brought up for discussion during the Monsoon Session of Parliament”. The six parties mentioned in the order were the Congress, BJP, CPM, CPI, NCP and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

 

Many, however, have questioned the validity of the move. Former chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah says “a decision of the CIC can only be stayed or set aside by the courts. An ordinance would mean changing the laws of RTI itself to keep political parties out of the Act’s purview, which is not a justified reaction”. Similarly, former attorney general Soli Sorabjee termed the move “an abuse of constitutional power” since an ordinance is to be brought only in urgent situations.

 

Political parties, on the other hand, remain largely opposed to the move to bring political parties under RTI. “The CIC order is totally wrong and misplaced,” says CPM General Secretary, Prakash Karat, “but we want the government to bring an amendment to the RTI Act in Parliament in the upcoming Monsoon Session, there is no need for an ordinance.” Seconding Karat, NCP spokesperson DP Tripathi says that his party has “the same stand as the Left parties”. He further calls the CIC ruling “a bogus concept” and “impractical”, as almost every law that is passed is more misused than used.

 

“In any democracy in the world, are political parties answerable to the bureaucracy?” asks Tripathi. “In any case, bank accounts and candidate details are public prior to elections. It’s okay if the government brings an ordinance but we would prefer a debate in Parliament.”

 

The BJP has taken a relatively neutral stand. “As far as the ordinance route is concerned, Arun Jaitley had already said there has to be a wider consultation,” says senior party member Ravi Shankar Prasad. “There is a good case for opening up, but the CIC’s orders are very sweeping in nature. Therefore they probably need to be discussed, we should not rush into things.”

 

However, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has condemned the need for an ordinance or amendment altogether. “Political parties say that they declare finances to the Income Tax Department but when the common man asks, that information will be denied,” says AAP member Manish Sisodiya. “As for a debate, who would oppose transparency in political parties? But it will be debated among themselves in Parliament. When it comes to their own interests, these political parties unite.”

 

Delhi-based RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal (a petitioner in the matter, which led to the CIC ruling) argues that reports of an ordinance “endorses the correctness of a well-drafted CIC-verdict because none of the affected political parties could find a flaw in it to be challenged in the courts”. He added that “any decision to amend the RTI Act will be indicative of an unholy alliance amongst the political community cutting across party-lines when their self-interest is involved.”

 

Some like former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, who hold that political parties must certainly be subject to RTI, say that passing an ordinance will greatly damage the parties. “An ordinance is a terrible move unless they want to do political hara-kiri and give mileage to other parties, which support RTI,” he says. “If they decide to go to court, the impact will be different, but with an ordinance, they will be hurting themselves immensely.”

 

Ordinance or not, most political parties are clearly gunning for exclusion from the RTI Act’s purview, even as the six week deadline set by the CIC for parties to designate information officers at their headquarters, is less than two weeks away.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reported by S Sudhakar Reddy in indianexpress.com on 10 July 2013

Why the CPI says no to RTI - Indian Express

 

Why the CPI says no to RTI

 

But parties can be made to disclose their finances compulsorily

We have received a number of inquiries about the CPI's position on bringing parties under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) that political parties should come under the RTI, as they receive a substantial amount of financial help from the government, has been rejected by all parties. Many eyebrows were raised as to why the Left parties are also opposed to it. I have received 180 emails in this regard.

 

What do you want to hide? Why are you opposing the CIC's decision? Why can't the Left parties agree to be transparent and accountable? These are some of the questions asked by well-wishers and the general public. And we have a responsibility to reply.

 

First, we would like to make it clear that the CPI is for transparency on income, expenditure, sources of such income and the names of donors. We have no hesitation in being accountable to the people. A political party is a voluntary association of people who believe in the political ideology of the party. We collect funds from people and work for them. Hence, people have a right to know our financial dealings.

 

Where, then, is the problem with being brought under the RTI? The RTI Act gives the people the opportunity to learn about the party's decisions, the contents of its files and other details. Political parties, though working for the public, enjoy confidentiality regarding their internal decisions, meetings and discussions. We are not prepared to share the minutes and other details of internal discussions, except with those who are members of our party committees. It is an internal matter of the party. We do, however, announce the party's decisions to the public. We announce the names of candidates who will contest on our party ticket, whom we will support, etc. But we cannot share information about the decision-making itself — who supported which candidate and the arguments within. RTI access of this kind will create problems for the internal, democratic functioning of the party. Our privacy will be compromised before our rivals, political or otherwise. We cannot agree to such an embarrassing predicament.

 

We cannot agree with the argument that political parties run with substantial help from the government. It is an insult to India's political parties. Some help and facilities are provided by the government to parties for the better functioning of democracy. In no way is it "substantial help".

 

The CIC agreed with the arguments of some RTI activists that political parties get substantial help from the government as they receive voters' lists from the Election Commission, are allotted timeslots on Doordarshan and Akashvani to explain their election manifestos, are allotted houses or bungalows in Delhi and other places for party offices, and quarters for party leaders in the capital.

 

It is true that the above facilities are provided. But it is not substantial financing. It is necessary to provide voters' lists to recognised parties as they have to check and distribute voting slips. The same is supplied to independent candidates and unrecognised parties at a nominal cost of a few thousand rupees. Allotting parties timeslots on government-run electronic media is a necessary exercise in making the public aware of the manifestos and other promises of the parties. It is not a favour done to the parties, and cannot be valued as commercial campaigning. Some committees on electoral reforms recommended that even vehicles be allotted to parties in order to curb corrupt electoral practices.

 

On the question of allotment of sites or buildings for party offices, I would like to cite the example of the CPI. In the 1970s, we wanted to purchase a site for the construction of our party office in Delhi. The government refused to sell, but allotted a site on lease. At that time, even the market price of the land was only a few lakh rupees. We constructed our party headquarters, "Ajoy Bhavan", and paid rent every six months. Costs of housing sites have since appreciated many times. The CIC calculated the value of our site at a market value of Rs 88 crore. The market value should be calculated as at the time of allotment, not at present rates. As it is leased land, we can neither own nor sell it, wholly or partly. This calculation, the basis of which is unscientific and unrealistic, misleads the public into thinking that a piece of land, costing a lot, has been allotted to the CPI. If an office site's value is calculated on the basis of the market price at the time of allotment, the total assistance to political parties will be less than 1 or 0.5 per cent of their incomes. This cannot be "substantial help".

 

Living quarters are allotted to leaders of some parties, along with their MLAs and MPs, for which rent is collected — between the concession rate and the market rate. So it is not based on nominal prices. This facility, or all of the above, cannot be treated as substantial financial aid.

 

So how do we make the financial resources of political parties transparent? Since we do not receive funds from corporate houses, we do not have anything to hide. The CPI is preparing to put all of its financial dealings on its website and make them available to the public. This can be made compulsory for all parties. As the most important part of a party's activity, people should know this as a right. We request people to understand and appreciate our apprehensions and reservations on the question of bringing political parties under the RTI Act. We want the CIC to withdraw its decision.

 

The writer is general secretary, Communist Party of India

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Reported by economictimes.indiatimes.com on 09 July 2013

Government unlikely to challenge CIC order on political parties in court - The Economic Times

 

Government unlikely to challenge CIC order on political parties in court

 

NEW DELHI: Government is unlikely to challenge the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) bringing six major parties within the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI) and instead bring an ordinance or take the legislative route to overturn it.

 

Highly-placed sources in the Law Ministry today said that the CIC order would not be challenged by the government in the high court - the appellate court for such issues.

 

Instead, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) could either bring an ordinance or move a bill in the next session of Parliament to overturn the CIC order.

 

One view is that government may opt for an ordinance route as the six-week deadlines given to these political parties by the CIC to appoint designate information officers and appellate authorities is ending on July 15. But the government is yet to take a final call on the issue.

 

It is learnt that Home Minister Sushilkumar Shinde, who is also leader of the House in Lok Sabha, is in touch with major political parties on the issue. There is a near unanimity among the political parties against the CIC order.

 

If a bill is not introduced and an ordinance is issued, it will have to be replaced by a legislation in the next session of Parliament.

 

The Commission had in its June 3 order said six national parties-- Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP-- have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and they have the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they perform public functions.

 

The DoPT has obtained a draft ordinance from the Law Ministry to amend the Act, based on which it is readying its proposal.

 

It is 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'.

 

Political parties could also be added in the list of organisations (Section 8) exempted from parting information under the information act.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

.

.

Reported by S Sudhakar Reddy in indianexpress.com on 10 July 2013

Why the CPI says no to RTI - Indian Express

 

Why the CPI says no to RTI

 

But parties can be made to disclose their finances compulsorily

......

The writer is general secretary, Communist Party of India

 

 

And my comment there, may be published after review:

 

Sir, kindly convey d following message of d common voters to Hon'ble Reddy, d writer & General Secy.

 

All d six Pol Party agree with d fact that they have transparency in their system; but directly or indirectly they refuse to come under public purview & have their own argument for that.

 

In this instant case (CPI), has argued that:

1) There are some INTERNAL matters (xyz), if disclosed, PRIVACY will be compromised b4 rivals!

 

Whether Hon’ble Scy knowingly suppresses the fact that, there are enough provision in d ACT itself(sec 8(1)(j))to protect PRIVACY and INTERNAL affairs? Not only that, there are two sections (8 &9)dedicated to such exemptions.

Again, so far as RIVALS are concerned, they are too measured by the same yardstick.

 

2) CPI doesn’t get SUBSTANTIAL financing from Govt.

 

Let us assume that they don’t get anything from Govt. Then why don’t hey challenge d decision at the Court that the calculation is based on fallacy? They are not bound to disclose the received donation

 

They have already argued b4 CIC. And esteemed arguments of both the sides can be found here:

http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SM_C_2011_001386_M_111222.pdf

 

 

The fact of d matter is, ALL of them want to maintain secrecy for this PUBLIC activity, for reasons, that can only be exposed through RTI.

 

 

Regards

 

R K Mishra

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Goa: Wendell Rodricks asks president not to pass RTI ordinance

 

Reported by Newstrackindia.com on 10 Jul 2013

Wendell Rodricks asks president not to pass RTI ordinance

 

Panaji, July 10 (IANS) Renowned fashion designer Wendell Rodricks has appealed to President Pranab Mukherjee not to endorse a central government-sponsored ordinance aimed at amending the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

 

In a letter to the president dispatched Wednesday, the Goa-based Rodricks has said that if he does decide to endorse the ordinance, which counters a recent Chief Information Commissioner's (CIC) ruling bringing six political parties under the RTI Act, then the president's office should spell out the reasons for the decision.

 

"The ostensible purpose is to counter the decision of the CIC declaring six political parties "public authorities" subject to the Right to Information Act," Rodricks said in his letter to Mukherjee.

 

The designer has also questioned the hurry with which the ordinance was being promulgated.

 

"Representatives of all political parties have stated that they believe the CIC decision is unsound legally and hence they are opposing it. If they are being truthful, they can certainly go in a writ to the courts," Rodricks has said.

 

"If you do issue the said ordinance, I am hoping you will share the reasons for the immediate action with citizens," the designer said in his letter.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

CIC order: Law Min clears ordinance route to amend RTI Act

 

Reported by Business-standard.com on July 11, 2013

CIC order: Law Min clears ordinance route to amend RTI Act | Business Standard

 

The Law Ministry has cleared the ordinance route to amend the Right to Information Act to overturn a Central Information Commission (CIC) order bringing six major political parties under the ambit of the transparency law.

 

"The ordinance route has been approved. Now it is up to the DoPT to bring it before Cabinet," said a top Law Ministry official today.

 

Defending the move to amend the RTI Act, the Cabinet note states that by declaring political parties as public authorities under the Right to Information Act would "hamper their smooth internal functioning since it will encourage political rivals to file RTI applications with malicious intentions".

 

It says that the Representation of the People Act and the Income Tax Act provide sufficient transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties.

 

Under Section 2 of the RTI Act, the definition of public authority in the proposed amendment will make it clear that "it shall not include any political party registered under the Representation of the Peoples Act".

 

As proposed earlier, political parties may not be added in the list of organisations (Section 8) exempted from parting information under the information act.

 

The Commission had in its June 3 order said six national parties-- Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP-- have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and they have the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they perform public functions.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Why bringing political parties under the RTI Act is a double-edged sword

 

By Baljit Singh Kalha in Dailymail.co.uk on 7 July 2013

Why bringing political parties under the RTI Act is a double-edged sword | Mail Online

 

The Central Information Commission (CIC), on June 3, 2013, held that political parties are "public authorities" under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The CIC ruled that political parties affect the lives of citizens, directly or indirectly, in every conceivable way and are continuously engaged in performing a public duty - and it is therefore important that they become accountable to the public.

 

"It would be odd to argue that transparency is good for all state organs, but not so good for political parties, which, in reality, control all the vital organs of the state," the order said.

Politics

 

Although the inclusion of political parties under the ambit of RTI has positive consequences, it cannot be denied that there exist some negative aspects too. The problem is that it applies a legislation, which is strictly not meant for political parties, to them.

 

There is credence to the view that if the legislature felt that political parties should be subject to the RTI act then they would have specifically provided for this. While the order would be useful for transparency in the accounting structure of the political parties, it is difficult to see how the RTI would apply to vast areas of the political parties operations which have to be confidential by their very nature.

 

For example, let us start from the very beginning of a political party's process - the selection of candidates for a legislative seat. Each party would have its own permutations and combinations with respect to the type of candidate each seat would require. Would this selection analysis not be a crucial part of a political party's election strategy?

 

If political parties were required to disclose this analysis wouldn't this be a compromise of its proprietary strategy as well as analysis?

 

Next a political party may have inner party deliberations over a number of issues. Some of these issues may involve national security issues among other sensitive ones. These deliberations allow a political party to analyse and come to a position on sensitive and controversial issues and also allow members to speak their position without fear or apprehension. Thus the problem here is that internal forums in a party mechanism could become subject to dissemination through RTI.

 

Additionally, if political parties are made to open up to queries under the RTI Act then it could expose each and every organisation, including those from the private sector and industries because they also get some subsidies on land/utilities etc for the same regime and there would be no ground left to keep them separate from actual public authorities.

 

Further, such inclusion will exert undue pressure on the political parties because of overfiling of such RTI applications. This will result in wastage of time. However, on the positive side, the financial workings and collection mechanisms of all political parties could be now much more open to public scrutiny.

 

Generally most political parties in some way or the other undertake fund raising activities which are opaque in their very nature.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Not kept in the know

 

By Shailesh Gandhi in Hindustantimes.com on July 10, 2013

Not kept in the know - Hindustan Times

 

There are strong indicators that the government, perhaps in tandem with other parties, is likely to amend the Right To Information (RTI) Act. The amendment will either name political parties as being exempt, or remove section 2 (h) (d) (i) and (ii). This could exclude all Public Private Partnerships (PPP) and other bodies substantially funded by the government, and might be achieved either by an ordinance or an amendment tabled in Parliament.

 

Other amendments to constrict the RTI may be pushed along with this. The ostensible purpose is to undo the Central Information Commission's (CIC) decision, which rules that political parties - substantially funded by the government - are public authorities and have to come under the RTI regime. Political parties have not explained why they are afraid of the RTI. They have only stated that the CIC has given an order that is bad in law. If that's the case, they can go in a writ to the high court against the CIC order and challenge it. This has been done in hundreds of cases, and the courts have quashed CIC orders in many cases. However, it appears the government is sure about the legal validity of the CIC order, and is, therefore, considering committing a constitutional sacrilege by issuing an ordinance to constrict the citizen's fundamental right to information.

 

All shades of opinion in the RTI movement agree that there should be no amendments to the RTI Act, which is fairly good and is being extensively used. Though some improvements can be made, it is clear that any amendment is likely to weaken the Act, which currently hurts powerful interests, and challenges existing power structures. For many years, citizens have managed to push back attempts to amend the Act by voicing their disapproval. It is necessary that they come together again and make their voices heard so the government and all political parties realise that there will be a political price to pay if any amendments are made to the RTI Act.

 

One of the driving forces of this movement was 'Hamara Paisa, Hamara Hisab'. The CIC decision, on political parties being public authorities and therefore under the ambit of RTI, is based on the parties having received substantial funding. One of the basic philosophies of the RTI movement in India is that if an agency is financed by government funds, it must be answerable and transparent to the stakeholders of the nation - its citizens. The ruling party, which takes great pride in having passed the RTI Act, has offered no valid explanation for its aversion to transparency. Transparency improves the functioning of all institutions that adopt it, and corrects arbitrariness. If political parties had any long-term vision, they would realise that RTI will improve the political system and increase their credibility. Currently, citizens have little trust in political parties. The RTI can change this, and improve the quality of our democracy.

 

If citizens want to retain this fundamental right, they must defend it at this historical moment and let political parties know that they will oppose any amendments to the RTI Act.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Activists want you to oppose exclusion of parties from RTI. Will you?

 

Reported by Dnaindia.com on Jul 11, 2013

Activists want you to oppose exclusion of parties from RTI. Will you? - Mumbai - DNA

 

There’s a request that Right To Information (RT) activists have for you. They’re urging citizens to dash off a protest letter to the President’s office, urging him not to allow the passing of an ordinance which will exempt political parties from being included under the Right To Information Act.

 

In June, the Central Information Commission had, while hearing some activists’ appeals, ruled that political parties should be included under the ambit of the RTI Act. However, almost all parties have opposed the order.

 

One of the apprehensions that political outfits possibly harbour is that their inclusion under the RTI Act would mean that they will have to divulge details of sources of the financial donations they receive.

 

To begin with, the activists themselves have sent out mails to the President’s office opposing the passing of an ordinance.

 

Bhaskar Prabhu of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, a non-governmental organisation that works to spread awareness on RTI, said more than 10,000 e-nmails and letters have been sent directly to the President. “If the government wants to challenge the order, it should move court instead of bringing in an ordinance. It’s a bad way to amend the RTI Act through an ordinance,” said Prabhu.

 

The letter, which has also been sent by former central information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, states that, like all other orders this one too can be quashed by a court. Gandhi’s letter, therefore, questions the need for an ordinance.

 

Another RTI activist, Vihar Durve, alleged that political funding is not at all transparent. “The ordinance is planned with the sole objective to save political parties,” said Durve, adding that land and natural resources are given away to relatives of senior political personalities.

 

Durve said also that people in political life who also have common business interests are rooting for the ordinance as they do not want their commercial link to be exposed.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

 Share


  • Tell a friend

    Love RTI INDIA- Online RTI? Tell a friend!
  • Members

    No members to show

  • Forum Statistics

    • Total Topics
      119.8k
    • Total Posts
      428.3k
  • Recently Browsing

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use & Privacy Policy