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Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Political parties can't be under RTI Act: Centre tells Supreme Court

NEW DELHI: Political parties should not be brought under the ambit of Right to  Information (RTI) Act by terming them 'public authorities' as this would not  only hamper their smooth working but help political rivals to file pleas with  malicious intention to seek information, government told the Supreme Court today.

When the RTI Act was enacted, it was never visualised that political  parties would be brought within the ambit of the transparency law, the  Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said in an affidavit in the apex court.

The affidavit, filed through an under secretary, said there were provisions in  Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1951 and the Income Tax Act which brought  necessary transparency about the financial aspects of a political party. 

The government's affidavit came in response to a notice issued to it on  a plea to declare all national and regional political parties, including BJP, Congress  andLeft parties among others, "public authorities" to bring them under the ambit of  the RTI Act.

The government maintained that the Central Information Commission (CIC) had made a "very  liberal interpretation" of section 2(h) of the RTI Act, which has led to an  "erroneous" conclusion that political parties are public authorities.

"I further submit that during the process of enactment of the RTI Act, it was  never visualised or considered to bring the politicial parties within the ambit of the said Act. If the political parties are held to be public  authorities under the RTI Act, it would hamper their smooth internal working,"  the affidavit said.

"Further, it is apprehended that political rivals  might file RTI applications with malicious intentions to the CPIOs of political  parties, thereby, adversely affecting their political functioning," it said. 

"Declaring a political party as public authority under the RTI Act  would hamper its smooth internal working which is not the objective of RTI Act and was not  envisaged by Parliament under the RTI Act," it said.

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