Political Parties fail to implement RTI Act

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CIC issues show-cause notices to six political parties for non-compliance hearing on Nov 21st

By A Correspondent

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has fixed November 21, 2014 for a hearing on non-compliance by six political parties of its full-bench verdict dated June 3 last year declaring six national political parties as public authorities under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The CIC, a statutory body, had held on June 3rd 2013 that the INC, BJP, CPI (M), CPI, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government under section 2(h) (ii) of the RTI Act. The criticality of the role being played by these Political Parties in our democratic set up and the nature of duties performed by them also point towards their public character, bringing them in the ambit of section 2(h). The constitutional and legal provisions discussed in the CIC decision also point towards their character as public authorities.

Accordingly, these political parties were directed to designate Chief Public Information Officers (CPIOs) and the Appellate Authorities at their headquarters in six weeks’ time. The CPIOs so appointed were required to respond to the RTI applications extracted in the CIC’s order in four weeks’ time.

However, it’s been more than 17 months since the CIC’s order and till now none of the six political parties has complied with the CIC’s order, nor has any of them taken any other recourse such as approaching the courts against the decision of the Commission, nor adopted any of the procedures for processing the RTI application as given in the transparency law.

This is a clear case of open defiance of a statutory authority by the six political parties and is not conducive to the functioning of a democratic society. This non-compliance has a very serious detrimental effect on the state of democracy in the country at large and has created a sense of cynicism and pessimism in the population at large, creating the impression in the minds of the people at large that the rule of law exists only for the common persons, and all institutions and people who enjoy some authority, formal or informal, and political parties in particular, are above the law.

This is an extremely serious consequence for our society and its detrimental impact can be catastrophic.

JULY 2017

Vol. 11 - No. 12


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