PIL urges SC to bring parties under RTI ambit

PIL urges SC to bring parties under RTI ambit

'Recognise them as public authority'

PIL urges SC to bring parties under RTI ambit

The Supreme Court must direct all national and regional political parties to reveal their incomes and expenditures under the Right to Information Act, a PIL filed at the apex court has urged.

The PIL, filed by Association of Democratic Reforms and noted RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal, has asked the court to direct the outfits to conform to the June 3, 2013 Central Information Commission order recognising the parties as public authorities under the RTI Act that would require them to disclose their financial details.

“All national and regional political parties should disclose for public scrutiny complete details of their income, expenditure, donations and funding including details of donors making donations to these political parties and their electoral trusts,” the petition filed by advocate Prashant Bhushan said.

The petitioners referred to the march 16 CIC pronouncement that its earlier direction to declare political parties as public authorities under RTI Act is binding.

Despite asking their members to exercise de-facto power over the legislature and enjoying extraordinary influence in law making, political outfits do not allow public scrutiny of their income, expenditure and details of donors in accordance with the rights of the voter to information, the petition contended.

It referred to the 255th report of the Law Commission of India citing practice in various countries such as the UK, Germany, the US, Australia, Japan, Philippines, France, Italy, Brazil, Bulgaria, Bhutan and Nepal where details on all donors and their donations to parties were available for public scrutiny under the RTI.

“The majority of cash donations received by political parties remain unaccounted for in the books of accounts, as only those amounts would be recorded for which a receipt has been issued,” the petition said.

Currently, political parties are not required to disclose names of individuals or organisations donating less than Rs 20,000, as a result of which 75 per cent of the donations are not traced back to the donors and remain contributions from ‘unknown’ sources, the petition said.

In 2013, the CIC ordered Indian National Congress, BJP, CPI (M), CPI, NCP and BSP to be “public authorities” under section 2(h) of the RTI Act.