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Updated: August 13, 2013 03:04 IST

Government has not come back to us, says CIC

    Bindu Shajan Perappadan
    Mohammad Ali
Comment (4)   ·   print   ·   T  T  
Satyananda Mishra. File Photo: S.S. Kumar
The Hindu
Satyananda Mishra. File Photo: S.S. Kumar

In June, the CIC ruled that political parties should come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act

In a landmark judgment, in June this year, the Central Information Commission (CIC) ruled that political parties should come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

The CIC order noted: “We have no hesitation in concluding that INC/AICC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the Central Government and, therefore, they are held to be public authorities under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.”

The order, delivered by a full Bench of the commission comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioners M.L. Sharma and Annapurna Dixit held that the “criticality of the role being played by these parties in our democratic set-up and the nature of duties performed by them also point towards their public character, bringing them within the ambit of Section 2(h). The constitutional and legal provisions discussed herein above also point towards their character as public authorities.”

Mr. Mishra, in an exclusive interview to The Hindu, steered clear of taking an explicit position on the amendment Bill tabled in the Lok Sabha. He maintained that “the CIC has done its job by giving the order and that it has neither the authority nor the interest to exceed its brief.” He, however, said all government-aided bodies could not be treated equally under the RTI Act.

Mr. Mishra, who will demit office on September 4, also spoke of his work at the CIC and the pressures and constraints that the Commission works under. He also talked about murmurs within the Commission on the need to ask the government for more teeth and powers.

What is the CIC’s stand on political parties now working together to avoid coming under the RTI Act umbrella?

The CIC has given its order on the matter and we have nothing more to say about it. The government has not come back to us asking our opinion on the changes that it wants to bring in, neither has the law or the Constitution given us the power to intervene in the matter to force the political parties to comply.

However, I do maintain that all government agencies and private, semi-private agencies (like sports clubs, etc.) cannot be treated at par.

I feel there should not be a blanket rule to give information about everything going on in private/semi-private establishments just because the government gives them some subsidies. It seems unfair and impractical. And, no I am not talking about protecting the political parties here. On the political parties being public bodies and coming under RTI, we have already cleared our stand. We cannot be seen taking sides of either the political parties or the public. That is not our job.

Given the limited powers of the CIC, will you seek more teeth and power for your organisation?

Yes, there is a feeling that the CIC needs to seek more powers to ensure that crucial orders given by it are implemented for the larger good of the public. Currently, we have a very limited mandate which at time is restrictive. The CIC has, however, immediate challenges that it need to overcome in order to become more effective.

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"I feel that the move to amend RTI Act (to keep political parties out
of RTI ambit) initiated by our own elected representatives indicate
the unfortunate reality of our democracy. Common Man is helpless (!)
because of TINA factor. He has to choose either ‘A' or ‘B' although he
knows that both are of no use/corrupt. But things will be further
worst if he chooses any ‘C' or ‘D’. Every day new scams are rocking
in the country & tax payer’s hard earned money is lost. All party
politicians are becoming richer by playing sole profitable business of
In fact they should have set precedent before citizens by voluntarily
disclosing all details & have used valuable time of Parliament for the
benefit of Country & citizens. But instead of that they are indulged
in wasting precious time in such amendments.
It shows their quality, culture & attitude towards country. Annaji is
100% right, therefore, we should strongly demand for right to recall &
right to reject our representatives el

from:  avinash prabhune
Posted on: Aug 14, 2013 at 13:21 IST

CIC must be not be made toothless and shouldn't be pushed to zone where its ambit is just of advisory kind of. There should be discretionary power with CIC which will make it the watchdog of the observance of RTI act otherwise the political class will be free to not legislate something which will prevent them from dodging the law itself.

from:  Nileshkumar P. Chavhan
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 10:35 IST

First of all, why Political parties to be exempted from this rule. Are they above RTI act or Constitution? This is ridiculous. People should understand that whoever is supporting this amendment is culprit. Hope all readers of this agree with me and Politicians reads this message.

from:  SRI
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 09:50 IST

I am so glad with this historical judgment ....transparency must come

from:  Rustam Rana
Posted on: Aug 13, 2013 at 06:09 IST
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