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Why RTI verdict is BAD NEWS for India's politicians

Last updated on: June 4, 2013 15:53 IST

Why RTI verdict is BAD NEWS

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A full bench of the Central Information Commission on Monday passed a historic judgment, stating that political parties also fall under the ambit of the Right to Information Act. While the CIC verdict was delivered in connection to a case about the Communist Party of India, fresh complaints may be filed against all other parties before the CIC to secure a similar verdict and put them under the ambit of the RTI.

In October 2010, the Association for Democratic Reforms had filed RTIs about various national parties, seeking information regarding contributions and donations received by them.

In response to these RTIs, all national political parties, barring the CPI, refused to divulge information by claiming that they did not fall under the purview of the Act.

Reportage: Vicky Nanjappa

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A complaint was then filed before the CIC in March 2011 requesting that political parties should be declared public authorities to bring them under the purview of the RTI.

The ADR, while welcoming this verdict, has set the process in motion by filing RTIs against all recognised political parties.

The complaints against these recognised parties will be filed before the CIC to secure a similar judgment against them as well.

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Tags: CIC , RTI , ADR , BAD NEWS

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Indian political parties file income tax returns to the IT department and submit Annual Contribution Reports to the Election Commission.

But the political parties only have to disclose information about donations that are over and above Rs 20,000.

The parties also withhold information about the suspension of existing members and providing membership to new members. They can withhold information about their office bearers, details of their intra-party polls and candidates contesting for the polls.

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Political parties also withhold information about the whole gamut of facilities that the government provides to them.
Now that such parties will be under the purview of RTI, they will be required to comply with the provisions of Section 4(1)(b) of the RTI Act by way of making voluntary disclosures on these subjects.

The onus of providing information about such matters now is on these political parties, not on citizens trying to access pieces of information about their functioning.

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Image: A Samajwadi Party worker gestures in front of a banner with the party's electoral symbol, the bicycle
Photographs: Jitendra Prakash/Reuters
Tags: RTI , BAD NEWS

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