Social activists Aruna Roy and Nikhil Dey on Saturday opposed the Union Government’s move to amend the Right to Information Act to exempt political parties from the purview of the statute, negating a recent order of the Chief Information Commission that had declared six political parties to be public authorities under the law.
Addressing a press conference under the banner of the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information here, the two activists said the amendment would weaken the drive for bringing probity in public life and raise doubts about the sources of funding for political parties.
“Instead of bringing transparency to the issue of funding, the Amendment Bill likely to be introduced in the monsoon session of Lok Sabha will reinforce our suspicion that the [political] establishment is keen to cover arbitrary use of power,” said Ms. Roy. She said the people’s right to know about the sources of funding was “non-negotiable”.
The activists said the amendment approved by the Union Cabinet in a “secretive manner” was also contrary to the government’s assurance made in the Parliament in 2009 that the civil society would be consulted before amending any provision of the RTI Act.
Ms. Roy, a Magsaysay Award winner, pointed out that the NCPRI had approached several political parties seeking their support in ensuring transparency in funding and monitoring of corporate and foreign financial support. “The Communist Party of India has agreed with us that political parties must be transparent about their accounts and share them with the public.”
The NCPRI and Rajasthan Suchana Ka Adhikar Manch will organise a symbolic dharna at Statue Circle here on Monday and submit to the Chief Secretary a memorandum addressed to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the issue.