Plea to declare all political parties as public authorities and bring them under RTI act
GN Bureau | July 7, 2015
The supreme court on Tuesday issued notices to the government and election commission on a plea seeking to bring political parties under RTI (right to information act).
The petition filed the founding member of Association for Democratic Reforms, Prof Jagdeep S Chhokar, and RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal had sought transparency and accountability in functioning of recognised national and regional political parties. Its plea is to declare all national and regional political parties as "public authorities" and bring them within the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) act.
"Issue the appropriate writ declaring all national and regional political parties to be public authorities under the RTI act...and thereby fulfill all obligations under provisions of the said act," the petition said.
It claimed that the political parties receive huge sums of money in the form of donations and contributions from corporates, trusts and individuals but do not disclose complete information about the source of such donations.
It urged the apex court to direct all national and regional parties to mandatorily disclose details about their income as well as expenditure.
It also sought declaration of entire details of donations and funding received by the political parties, irrespective of the amount donated and details of donors making donations to them and to electoral trusts.
The petition claimed that political parties enjoyed a stronghold over their elected MPs and MLAs under Schedule 10 of the Constitution that makes it compulsory for members of either Houses of Parliament or state legislatures to abide by the directions of their parties, failing which they stand to be disqualified.
The central information commission (CIC), in both 2013 and March 16, 2015, had declared all national and regional political parties to be public authorities under the Right to Information Act, 2005. However, Indian National Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India (Marxist), Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have not complied with the repeated orders by the nation's top RTI body to disclose assets.
“Under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951 all political parties must affirm their allegiance to the Constitution of India and such allegiance is made compulsory for the purpose of registration under sub-section (7) of Section 29A. Therefore, political parties so registered must furnish information to the public under the right of information under Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution of India, since right of information has been held to be a part of freedom of speech and expression under Article 19(1)(a),” the petition, represented by advocate Prashant Bhushan, said.
It said the Law Commission of India in its 170th report on ‘Reform of the Electoral Laws’ in May 1999 had also recommended for transparency in the functioning of political parties specially focusing on financial transparency and accountability in their functioning.
It further said the Law Commission of India in its 255th Report on Electoral Reforms in March 2015 has also proposed its recommendations on the issue of disclosure obligations of political parties.
As India celebrates 70 years of freedom, Governance Now looks back and picks 70 words – or phrases, buzzwords, slogans, events – that best define this ancient nation and young democracy. Here, you will find much to be proud of, much tinged with pangs of nostalgia. Then there are entries that
Dr Kenneth E Thorpe, a professor of health policy and management at Emory University in the US and also the executive director of Partnership to Fight Chronic Diseases (PFCD), says that the government alone cannot do everything. “They don’t have the resources and capacity. So we have to fin
Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL), a joint venture company of PSUs of ministry of power, signed an agreement with oil marketing companies (OMCs) of ministry of petroleum and natural gas for distribution of energy efficient appliances under the flagship Unnat Jeevan by Affordable LEDs and applianc
Union minister for civil aviation, P Ashok Gajapathi Raju inaugurated the upgraded passenger terminal building of Jammu airport. Notably, Jammu airport belongs to the Indian Air Force, and airports authority of India (AAI) maintains a civil enclave for civil aircraft operat
The election commission has become increasingly assertive in the past few months, showing its mettle in times of electoral challenges. Weeks after rooting from EVMs and just days after the poll panel declared votes cast by two rebel Congress legislators in the Rajya Sabha e
Is Amit Shah`s blueprint for 350-plus seats in 2019 Lok Sabha elections achievable?