The Central Information Commission (CIC) in a landmark judgement on 3 June 2013 held that political parties are answerable to citizens under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act). The ruling means that these parties will now have to disclose sources of funding as well as details of expenditure if asked to do so.
It also directed the Presidents and General Secretaries of the political parties to designate Central Public Information Officers and Appellate Authorities at their headquarters within six weeks.
The bench comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners M. L. Sharma and Annapurna Dixit in their judgement held that political parties should fulfill the criteria of being public authorities under the RTI Act. Since they perform public functions they have the character of public authorities and therefore come within the ambit of RTI Act.
The order came after activists Subhash Chandra Aggarwal and Anil Bairwal of the Association of Democratic Reforms requested CIC to declare political parties as public authorities. The political parties, except CPI, however, refused to disclose information, arguing that they do not come under the RTI Act.
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