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Updated: June 7, 2013 11:46 IST

Be gracious and accept CIC order, litigants tell political parties

Mohammad Ali
Comment (32)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
File photo of RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.
The HIndu File photo of RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal.

Even as the political class of the country has rejected the Central Information Commission (CIC) order making political parties answerable to citizens under the Right to Information Act, the petitioners have asked the parties to be gracious and accept the CIC order as it would facilitate transparency and accountability in public life.

While talking to media on Tuesday, litigants RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal and Anil Bairwal from the Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) highlighted that during the process of almost three years since the ADR and other activists started demanding that political parties be considered as public authorities, “they tried very hard to avoid coming under the transparency law by confusing the CIC.”

“If the transparency law is applicable to the government, why should it not be applicable to people and bodies which form the government?” Mr. Bairwal asked.

The judgment, which comes at a time when political leaders across the spectrum are being named in scams and corruption cases, means that the parties would be liable to maintain records for public scrutiny and provide information when sought under the RTI Act.

The order makes it mandatory for the six political parties — the ruling Congress, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP), the Communist Party of India (Marxist), the Communist Party of India and the Bahujan Samaj Party — to disclose their source of funds and expenditure.

Issues like process of candidate selection and ticket distribution — which are at present internal matter of respective parties — will also come under public scrutiny.

“Even though this order is about only six political parties, we have started the process where we will try to get the other political parties as well within the ambit of the RTI Act,” Mr. Bairwal added.

Talking about the possibility of parties obtaining a stay on the order by approaching courts, Mr. Bairwal said: “If political parties go to court against the CIC order it would be crystal clear before the general public as to who is against transparency in public life.”

Reacting to the reaction of the Congress that the CIC order would “damage” the democratic institutions and political system, he said: “With all humility, politicians must realise that they are not above the law. If somebody thinks that being answerable to the public through the RTI Act would destroy the political system, their understanding about political system, which is much more than just political parties, is rather inadequate.”

Moreover, the ADR, one of the two main petitioners, has filed a caveat before the Delhi High Court to pre-empt a unilateral stay on a likely appeal by political parties.

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The decision of the court will help the populace to clearly understand the games played
By all political parties. The situation in the country has become very bad , and there should
Be a real shake up to help the nation. The decision of the CIC is historic in every sense.
The Editorial of Hindu makes sense
C P CHANDRA DAS

from:  C p Chandra das
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 22:01 IST

This reflects how arrogant and super god political parties are and continue to be? It is quite logical that in a democratic country every action of the elected representative, political party, Government officials and judicial official must be transparent and none can have privilege to enjoy immunity. Citizens of India should have constitutional right to seek information in any aspect of these persons and institutions about their activities and actions. It is time, before the election in four States this year and general election in 2014, for print and electronic media to create hue and cry day in and day out to create awareness among citizens and voters to throw these parties out of existence on one hand and on the other teach lesson to leaders of parties.

from:  Dr Amrit Patel
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 18:40 IST

dont know whether this act wil be implemented or not, but definitly, these aam citizens hav the guts to go for this kind of law and bringing it to the people's attention; and of course, our politicians wont bother to even look at the bill, by the name itself, they know wha it means and what they can expect???

from:  animesh
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 12:08 IST

Here CIC is absolutely right. There is no justification for political parties not to agree. Our E media is not paying attention on such crucial matters but on issues of BCCI
highlighted day in day out!!

from:  Rayan
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 11:58 IST

big thanks to Subhash Chandra Agrawal great job Sir

from:  Ishwar
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 11:52 IST

Resisting the transparency signs the immunity the political parties
want to earn even after showering the country with lots of scams and
loss to the exchequer.

from:  Navajit
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 11:40 IST

When Temples,etc., which accept public money in the form of donations
are covered under the RTI act, why are these parties seeking an
exception?
However, the candidate selection criteria, etc may be considered as a
trade secret and exempted from RTI Act. But the list of all donors must
me displayed on the NET and shall be a public document. Similarly the
expenses of political parties must be subjected to audit by a Statutory
Auditor.
Another way of bringing this transparency to some extent is for the IT
dept.to disclose the list of all donors, who have claimed IT exemption.
No one can object to such a disclosure by the IT dept.

from:  asr murthy
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 11:19 IST

I'm completely failed to understand, why there has only 'no' coming from leaders across the party line. Some has been protesting, some prefer to keep mum and the ones who implement RTI for their party(they claimed), has been proudly saying that they even didn't get any benefits from the govt. What's kind of attitude is this? Are they do not work for general public? Simple thing is, every political party wants to be the BOSS, but they don't want to be the EMPEROR.
P.s. I have used the word "Emperor" in democratic contents.

from:  Kuheli
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 11:16 IST

Political parties should come under RTI. If any party is against this, then remove the "political" word from those parties and declare them as illegal. Let them be only parties.

from:  Amar
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 10:45 IST

My salute to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal and Anil Bairwal

from:  Rohit
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 10:32 IST

It is very good initiative.Political party must be accountable to their property,their source of income and the expenses in election.It will create transparency and generate faith among public towards political party to whom they are casting their votes.As the most of the scam is occurred from political party, it will cause a restraint to this.We should welcome this initiative.

from:  RAVI RAJ
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 10:05 IST

The excuse to reject CIC's order is that it would hamper democratic
institutions like political party, while the reality is people have
faith that RTI law reflects people’s power, and brings democracy to the
institutions. The fact is, political party being the centerpiece of all
other state institutions, affect others with their values and practices.
If the Congress if afraid of CIC's order to bring transparency within
the party, people in turn would be afraid of the Congress.

from:  Saidur Rahman
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 10:02 IST

This is a landmark decision. If political parties oppose the CIC
decision, it is clear that they do not want clean politics. It is
shocking to note that all the political parties are again united to
oppose this decision of CIC. Before that,they all got united to oppose
Lokpal Bill. This war has again become people vs political parties.

from:  Prahlad Pandey
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 09:40 IST

No one in India should be hiding from RTI. If it is applicable to public then it should be applied to political parties and their agencies.

I would wait for a day when politicians spend their life in jail post retirement for corruption and crimes they had committed under disguise of public service.

from:  M V Chilukuri
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 09:37 IST

Though it's welcome,quite often it can be misused by the supporters of
political parties. What's more important is to make the babus to respond
to RTI without fear or favour. And also what happened to the move to
bring private companies under the preview of RTI after they need to be
accountable to people who have invested their money.

from:  Nagarajan
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 09:35 IST

More transparency will bring better strength to the democracy. Now we shall see howmany of our political parties are truly standing for the people. Those political parties which are not ready to share their information must have something to hide.

from:  ratheesh
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 09:33 IST

Great job by ADR. Thank you very much for making the polity more accountable and
closing this loophole where bribe was being collected in the name of party funds
with no tracking in place. However something does not add up to me. How can CIC
make such a ruling which affects only six parties. Doesn't this give undue advantage
to smaller parties. I mean we should not win on corruption at the cost of fairness
principle? I can see ADR's thought process to get an order for just 6 parties, but how
CIC can make such a decision which is inherently partial?

from:  Anand
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 09:21 IST

5-6-13 RTI Act application to political parties and even citizens who deal with money helps honesty and transparency to prevail in our country. This reduces poverty ensures good governance reduces the havoc of political parties protests and changing parties only with selfish interest. Every citizen must support this. B S GANESH

from:  B S GANESH
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 09:18 IST

The best course for all the political parties in India is to fall in line with CIC and accept the significance of the very bill (RTI)they have passed in the national interest.

from:  Vyas K Susarla
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 08:53 IST

This will make political system much transparent. Hopefully political
parties now work more ethically. To a lower level party man this will
give an idea of how their political parties actually work at higher
level and better serve or leave.

from:  preej
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 08:47 IST

Take away the ability to raise surreptitious
political party funding and you remove about
50 percent of the source for corruption in
India!

from:  Ramgopal Das
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 08:14 IST

This is a historic ruling from the CIC which as expected is being
opposed by the politicians. The definition of a public body should
include all organizations, whether Govt or NGOs, Charitable Trusts,
Religious bodies, political parties etc which receive most of their
income from the public in the form of donations, grants, charities,
gifts etc, i.e. so long as they survive on public money they are all
public bodies. Hence the public has got every right to know the
details of such income and how they are spent on the principle that
the man who pays the piper calls the tune. Why should any public body
feel shy about disclosing what the public wants so long as their
dealings are honest and genuine.

from:  T.N.Sethumadhavan
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 08:10 IST

I fail to understand the logic behind the refusal of the political
parties to be covered under the RTI. Why should they be afraid of
transparency if they profess that they stand for the good of the country
and people?

from:  satish
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 07:35 IST

Orders of the Commission are based on the assumption that freedom of expression and information are characteristic features of a liberal democratic society. Such an opinion is marked by accountability, and rule of law. On the other hand, the political parties recognize the actually existing reality that our society is neither feudalistic nor capitalistic, but in between the two. Pragmatic considerations are superficially covered up with principles. The people are not adequately organized to articulate and safeguard their collective interests. The parties have to generate resources for distribution among potential voters, party workers, sympathizers, leaders, and others who depend upon them for due and undue favours, now and then. They cannot afford to giver and take measure for measure. Change will take a long time coming. The Commission is playing futuristic music. In the meantime, the intellectuals and the system of education will have to spread enlightenment.

from:  Jaspal Singh
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 07:18 IST

It only confirms that parties have many thing to hide from public
eye.India is not fit for democracy and political freedom had only helped
exploitation by Indians of Indians.
If things are above board why should parties shy away from disclosing
the information?Only the intellegentia has to take the issue to streets
and fight for it

from:  sundar
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 07:14 IST

A very timely and pertinent order by the CIC.

from:  Harsh Pandey
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 07:13 IST

This could be an incredible game changing moment for democracy in India. When you see most if not all Political parties against this ruling, it tells me that this is just what was needed.

I really liked how the petitioners have been very thorough in their response to the political class. In essence they are saying, "you have no where to hide."

EC should immediately state that any political party that falls under the ambit of this requirement and does not comply, should not be de-recognized.

This is the first move in a long time that has made democracy move forward in India.

from:  Amol
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 05:28 IST

This is one of the best decisions of the CIC. We are in the midst of
Corruptions like lakhs of crores. This is public money meant for the
good of the people of India. Who is handling this money? If any
political party is transparent why should you object? By the very fact
that the political parties are handling public money they should be
transparent at all levels. This is TRUE DEMOCRACY.Thomas Kocherry

from:  Thomas Kocherry
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 04:58 IST

This is a great effort. Hope our political parties become more responsible. A democracy is guided by its own people.

Babu Gopalakrishnan

from:  babu gopalakrishnan
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 03:07 IST

Wonderful. Great initiative. This is like hitting the rock bottom of the issue. If the parties are so clean as they boast, let them be transparent and be accountable.

from:  senthil
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 02:58 IST

Great work by the activists and CIC. That is some Good news!

from:  Pradip
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 02:17 IST

Congratulations to these gentlemen ..... great news, lets hope it gets implemented.

from:  Ajay Singh
Posted on: Jun 5, 2013 at 01:48 IST
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