Activists working to promote Right to Information (RTI) Act on Friday opposed the government’s move to keep political parties out of the ambit of the transparency law.
A protest is being planned on August 6 (Tuesday) by RTI activists at Jantar Mantar here to express their unhappiness over the government’s decision and to urge the Centre to take back its decision to ensure transparency in the working of the parties.
“We are against the government’s decision to amend the RTI Act. We oppose it. A protest has been planned where activists and people from across the country will gather to register their protest,” Coordinator (access to information programme), Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative Venkatesh Nayak said.
The Union Cabinet had on Thursday cleared a proposal to amend the RTI Act in order to give immunity to political parties.
Mr. Nayak said RTI activists will also hold protests in their respective states to oppose the Centre’s decision.
The protest is being planned by non-government organisations like CHRI and National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) among others.
RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal said the government took a short cut to circumvent the reasoned CIC decision instead of challenging the matter before a higher court.
“The Union Cabinet’s nod for short cut route of amending RTI Act for keeping political parties out of purview of the transparency law endorses the correctness of a well-drafted CIC verdict where no political party could find a flaw in the order to be challenged in the courts,” he said.
He demanded that all cooperative societies including multi-state-cooperative societies (MSCS), Public-Private-Partnerships (PPP) and all national-level sports federations including BCCI should be covered under RTI Act.
Another RTI activist Commodore Lokesh Batra has already written to President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress president Sonia Gandhi against amendments to the RTI Act.
“We will be meeting each Parliamentarian in support of our demands. We oppose the government’s decision to give immunity to political parties from providing information,” said MR. Batra.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) had in its order on June 3 held that six national parties - Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI(M), CPI and BSP - were public authorities and liable to give information under the RTI Act.
These parties have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs), for the purpose of providing information, as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act, it has held.
“We demand that parliamentarians should not let these amendments passed from the Parliament. A petition in this regard will also be submitted to President Pranab Mukherjee,” RTI activist Vivek Garg said.