Aditi Tandon

New Delhi, November 13

Political parties are quite unlikely to follow the judiciary on the path of transparency. Moments after the Supreme Court (SC) today ruled to bring the office of the Chief Justice of India under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, 2005, politicians either began justifying why political parties should not be covered by the transparency law or chose to deflect the matter.

“It is up to the government of the day to initiate a debate on this matter,” Congress chief spokesman Randeep Surjewala said.

Former minister Jairam Ramesh termed the question meaningless in the wake of “dilutions the BJP government had brought to the RTI law.”

CPI general secretary D Raja said political parties could not be defined as public authorities under the RTI Act because they were not funded by the state.

Reactions to the SC verdict were therefore along expected lines given the history of the resistance political parties have shown to being answerable under the law. Starting 2010 when the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) filed an RTI request seeking information from six national parties on donations to date, politicians have united to exclude themselves from the legislation.

The Congress-led UPA had on August 12, 2013 even introduced an RTI Amendment Bill in Lok Sabha to exempt political parties from the definition of public authority under the RTI Act. The legislation was brought to nullify the Central Information Commission’s June 3, 2013 order ruling that national political parties (INC, BJP, CPIM, CPI, NCP and BSP) were public authorities under Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act and therefore covered by the law.

Introduced by V Narayanasamy, then MoS, Personnel, the Bill justified the exclusion of outfits saying, “Declaring a political party a public authority under the RTI Act will hamper its smooth internal working which is not the objective of the said Act. It was not envisaged by the Parliament under the RTI Act. Further, political rivals may misuse the provisions of the RTI Act thereby adversely affecting the functioning of political parties.”

© Association for Democratic Reforms
Privacy And Terms Of Use
Donation Payment Method