Source: 
Business Standard
http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/lawmakers-shouldn-t-support-rti-amendments-think-tank-113080101029_1.html
Date: 
01.08.2013
City: 
New Delhi

While the government is contemplating changes in the Right to Information (RTI) act, think tank Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has urged lawmakers not to support the proposed amendments.

According to government sources, amendments in RTI act are on the cards to ensure political parties do not come under the act. Reports say the department of personnel and training has finalised a cabinet note on the amendments.

In an appeal to all Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha members, ADR and its sister organisation, National Election Watch (NEW), urged members of parliament not to "support such a bill if introduced in parliament".

"By not supporting this bill, you will be supporting citizens and will become an advocate of transparency and accountability," the appeal said.

All state coordinators of state election watch teams have signed the letter. This demand is supported by over 1,200 organisations, members of National Election Watch.

While saying that the same government had passed the RTI act and hailed it as a landmark legislation since its enactment, the statement said bringing political parties under RTI will be "a step forward in the same direction to ensure accountability by all political platforms to the citizens of India".

"The suspicion that this may be detrimental to the internal functioning and strategies of the political parties is completely misplaced. On the contrary, lack of information about the political parties leads to disconnect between the parties and the common man," it added.

Following a petition by ADR and RTI activist S.C. Agrawal, the Central Information Commission (CIC) had ruled that political parties are public authorities who now need to respond to RTI queries within six weeks.

Six national parties -- the Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India and Bahujan Samaj Party -- would come under RTI, according to the CIC decision.

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