SC is considering public interest litigation that has sought declaration equating political parties with public authorities
GN Bureau | August 25, 2015
Terming information commission’s ruling as ‘a very liberal interpretation’ and ‘erroneous conclusion that political parties are public authorities under the RTI Act’, the Union government has told the supreme court that bringing political parties under the scope of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, would affect the smooth functioning of these parties.
An affidavit filed last week, the centre said both the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Income Tax Act, 1961, have adequate measures to ensure that transparency is maintained in the accounts of political parties. The apex court is considering a public interest litigation filed by non-profit Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) that has sought a declaration equating political parties with public authorities.
In response to the court’s notice, the government said bringing a political party under the ambit of public authority as defined by the RTI Act will “hamper its smooth functioning”. It may also expose a political party to a large number of malicious RTI applications by rival political parties.
In August last year, too, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government had made its stand clear on the issue when minister of state for personnel and training Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that bringing a political party under the RTI Act could “hamper its smooth internal working, which is not the objective of the RTI Act”.
The affidavit said under Section 29C of the RPA all political parties shall prepare a report each financial year for receiving any contributions in excess of Rs 20,000, from individuals and organizations other than government companies.
Under Section 75A of the RPA provides for declaration of assets and liabilities by each elected candidate for a House of Parliament.
Further under Section 13A of the IT Act, a political party can claim exemption from tax provided that such political party keeps and maintains such books of accounts and other documents as would enable the assessing officer to properly deduce its income there from.
According to the Centre, the CIC had made “a very liberal interpretation of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, leading to an erroneous conclusion that political parties are public authorities under the RTI Act.
“Political parties are not established or constituted by or under the Constitution or by any other law made by Parliament. The political parties are constituted by their registration under the RPA and this cannot be construed as akin to establishment or constitution of a body or institution by an appropriate government, as held by the Central Information Commission,” the Centre added.
Lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing ADR had claimed that political parties receive huge sums of money in form of donations and contributions from corporates, trusts and individuals, but do not disclose complete information about the source of such donations. ADR’s petition relied on two orders of the Central Information Commission that ruled that political parties should be considered public authorities. The orders were not implemented.
Public-Private Partnerships (PPP) projects are always under scrutiny, given the options of alternative of traditional procurement for the government. The value-for-money debate is one of the essential parameters to judge any PPP. In the absence of any credible data on this regard, it is very difficult to e
Electoral bonds, introduced in January 2018 to bring in transparency in political funding, has emerged as the preferred route for making donations to parties, according to an analysis of the parties’ audit reports by the Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR). “Given the anonymi
With a humble beginning in 1875, the India Meteorological Department (IMD) – which is celebrating its 145thFoundation Day on January 15 – has marched forward with various milestones and paradigms to serve the society. When weather and climate are playing more and more role in our daily lives, h
Prithviraj Chavan, a senior Congress leader and former Maharashtra chief minister, is the key architect of the ruling Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) alliance that came to power after the three-day government of the BJP, supported by Ajit Pawar of NCP, fell apart just before the supreme court ordered an open b
Every winter Delhi experiences some of the worst air pollution levels in the world. Concentrations of particulate matter – PM10 and PM2.5 – regularly hover around values of 400 to 500, levels that are considered extremely hazardous by both Indian and international air quality standards. Doctors
Nobel laureate economist Abhijit Banerjee has sounded an alarm on the economic crisis and compared the present situation to the 1991 economic crisis, stressing that to revive the economy it is important to stimulate demand. Like elsewhere in the world, the level of trust in experts and the e