Parties not in favour of inclusion in RTI Act

Major political parties on Thursday vehemently opposed moves to bring them under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, saying that facilities and subsidised buildings given for their offices do not constitute funding from the government.

A Full Bench of the CIC comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and information commissioners Annapurna Dixit and M L Sharma was convened to decide on whether political parties come under the RTI Act or not.

According to the RTI Act, a non-governmental body is declared a public authority if it is substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government.

Such public authorities are answerable to public queries raised under the transparency law.

During the hearing, all major national parties like BJP, BSP, CPI-M and NCP except Congress were present while CPI had already represented their case during the last hearing.

Speaking for NCP, its counsel Amit Anand Tiwari said that according to the RTI Act, public interest is not a criteria to declare a body public authority.

BSP claims

He also said if the details of the donors and put in public domain, other parties may threaten them and bring down the entire electoral process.

BSP represented by lawyer Shail Dwivedi claimed that there was not "direct or indirect funding" by the government and the facilities like free air time, buildings at cheap rents and other facilities do not constitute funding.

Similar arguments were put forth by CPI-M Politburo member Ramachandran Pillai who said 40 per cent of its funds come from its cadre which is slightly over 10 lakh across the country as membership of annual Rs two annually while rest come from 'levy' and donations and it was practically impossible to give such details.

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