Former Chief Justice AP Shah, others oppose RTI amendment

A group of eminent citizens, including former Delhi High Court Chief Justice A P Shah and former Cabinet Sercetary TSR Subramanian, have appealed to MPs not to vote for any bill which exempts political parties from the ambit of the RTI Act.

The signatories which also include former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak, former Mumbai Police Commissioner Julio Ribeiro have appealed to the parliamentarians that rather than amending the law, political parties can challenge the CIC order declaring them as public authorities in courts.

"There are reports in the media, that a bill is likely to be presented in Parliament to amend the RTI Act. The reasons being given publicly are that the CIC order declaring political parties as public authorities, subject to RTI is bad in law," it said.

The letter said if an order which is bad in law is issued by any statutory authority, the correct process is to challenge it at an appropriate forum.

"The CIC order can be challenged in a writ in the High Court, and there are many instances of these orders having been quashed in Courts. None of the political parties has filed for a stay of this order, and now expect to amend the law in Parliament to justify and legitimize their defiance of a statutory order," it said.

The letter addressed to all the parliamentarians said defying a statutory order by anyone sets a wrong example, and leads to breakdown of the rule of law.

The RTI Act has been used fairly extensively and has uncovered certain arbitrariness and corruption.

"More importantly, it has empowered the individual sovereign citizen, who is today getting greater respect from many entities. The key principle in defining the bodies to be covered by the RTI Act was based on the movement's slogan, 'Hamara Paisa, Hamara Hisab,'" it said.

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