SC issued notice to Union Government, EC on petition seeking to bring political parties under RTI

Jul 7, 2015 16:16 IST

The Supreme Court of India on 7 July 2015 issued notices to the Union Government, Election Commission (EC) and six political parties and asked why it should not be brought within Right to Information (RTI) ambit to make them more accountable to public.

The six national parties involved are Indian National Congress (INC), Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP), Communist Party of India (M), Communist Party of India (CPI), Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

The notice was issued by a three-judge bench of Chief Justice HL Dattu, Justice Arun Kumar Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy on a PIL filed by NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR). The petitioner in the plea filed in May 2015 demanded to declare all national and regional political parties as public authorities and bring them under the ambit of RTI Act, 2005.

Further, the petitioner sought transparency and accountability in functioning of political parties. It also sought a direction that the parties should be asked to declare all donations, including those below 20000 rupees.

June 3 order of Central Information Commission

The Central Information Commission (CIC) in its detailed order of 3 June 2013 held that the six national parties have been substantially financed by the Central government, therefore, they are held to be public authorities under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

Also the critical role these political parties played in Indian democratic set-up and the nature of duties performed by them point towards their public character.

Comment
The issue of notice by the apex court to all the stakeholders involved infuses oxygen into the dead case wherein even CIC in March 2015 expressed its inability to impose any action against the erring political parties.

In its March 2015 circular, the CIC expressing its inability had called for identifying the legal gaps and lacunae in the implementation mechanism as current provision under the RTI Act, 2005 do not allow for action for non-compliance.

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