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.
This is the 250th year since the inception of the Survey of India that has been mapping the boundaries since 1767. Archana Mishra spoke to Dr Swarna Subba Rao, former surveyor general of India, who retired in June this year. He joined the department as a deputy superintending surveyor in 1983 a
An experiment carried out to make Uttar Pradesh’s Bijnor district Open Defecation Free (ODF) succeeded due to an official’s innovative approach, noted a World Bank blog. The blog “Compressed demand”: How Uttar Pradesh is making sure rural sanitation subs
As an emerging global power and the most powerful state in South Asia, India has been perennially concerned about protracted political instability and resultant social turmoil in Afghanistan during the past few decades. Indeed, India’s engagement in the realm of development cooperation, since the o
Till the National Investigation Agency (NIA) caught up with him in Delhi on August 17, 70-year-old Zahoor Ahmad Shah Watali, a businessman, was indeed one of the most powerful persons in Kashmir valley. He was known to wield enormous clout in the corridors of power, both in Srinagar and Delhi. His influenc
Did media trial impact Aarushi-Hemraj murder case?
After spending almost a month among tribals of Mandla in Madhya Pradesh, I can confidently say that by restricting ourselves to Public Distribution System (PDS), we cannot solve the food security issues of the country. The problem is graver. In a district like Mandla, where aboriginals like Bai