‘Central Information Commission says six parties come under purview of RTI Act’

The Communist Party of India (Marxist) State committee has been sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to provide information on the party-level inquiry into the murder of the Revolutionary Marxist Party (RMP) leader T.P. Chandrasekharan.

In an RTI application addressed to the ‘State Public Information Officer’ of the CPI(M) State committee, P. Sharfuddin, a Thalassery-based RTI activist, sought the information to be provided in 48 hours under section 7(1) of the Act. The applicant demanded an authorised copy of the inquiry report, details about the sittings of the inquiry panel, including the number of sittings, and dates and places of inquiry, names of the members of the panel, authorised copies of the submissions, if any, of the relatives and friends of Chandrasekharan before the commission, authorised copies of the submissions of party leaders and representatives of public authorities who had been heard by the commission during its inquiry into the murder, and the total expenditure incurred by the CPI(M) State committee for conducting it.

When contacted, Mr. Sharfuddin said that as per the Central Information Commission’s order No. CIC(SM)/C/2011/000838, six political parties, including the CPI(M), came under the purview of the RTI Act and, therefore, were legally bound to provide information sought under the RTI Act. No court in the country had quashed this order.

‘No Ordinance’

Though the Central government had earlier planned to promulgate an Ordinance to amend the Act to keep political parties out of its purview, no such Ordinance was issued. Since the order was still in force, the political parties should appoint a Public Information Officer to provide information sought under the RTI Act, he said.

It remains to be seen whether the CPI(M) State committee will accept the RTI application for the inquiry report. The CPI(M) can return the application citing that the party has no State Public Information Officer. According to RTI activists, the applicant can then approach the State Information Commission.