No decision yet on keeping political parties out of RTI

No decision yet on keeping political parties out of RTI

No decision yet on keeping political parties out of RTI

No decision has been taken yet by the government on giving immunity to political parties from providing information under the Right to Information Act as the six-week deadline by the Central Information Commission ends tomorrow.

Officials in the Department of Personnel and Training, which is the nodal department for the implementation of the RTI Act, said the government was not very keen on bringing an ordinance to keep political parties out of the ambit of the transparency law.

The DoPT, which is under the charge of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, may also go for consultation with other stake holders including civil society before deciding to bring an ordinance, which has been approved by the Law Ministry, to pave way for amendments in the RTI Act, they said.

The amendments in the RTI Act, if approved by all stake holders, can be brought as early as during the Monsoon Session of Parliament which is likely to begin from mid-August.

The Central Information Commission had in its order on June 3 held that 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 transparency watchdog's six-week deadline to these political parties to appoint designate information officers and appellate authorities ends tomorrow.
The DoPT may propose amendments to Section 2 of the RTI Act to change definition of a public authority to shield political parties.

Another option which may be considered by the government is 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 DoPT is, however, less inclined to opt for the second option as it might face public opposition, the officials said.

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.