Even as the recent Central Information Commission (CIC) order making political parties answerable to the public through the Right to Information Act has started a debate on what are the things they should be expected to disclose, the present status of proactive disclosure by them is “very dismal.”
A report prepared by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), which was one of the litigants in the CIC order, of various disclosures on the websites by the six national parties the CIC brought under RTI — the Congress, the BJP, the BSP, the CPI, the CPI (M) and the NCP — shows that even though all these parties have their websites they contain only “minimal” information.
The Section 4 b of the RTI Act makes it mandatory for them to proactively disclose as many as 17 details, which include not only the financial transactions, monthly salaries of their employees, “budget allocated to each” of their agencies, but also virtually every important detail about the organisations.
The parties will have to disclose “procedure followed in the decision-making process, including the channels of supervision and accountability” besides “particulars of its organisation, function and duties, the power and duties of its officers and employees.”
According to the report, the Bahujan Samaj Party, which flaunts its allegiance to the chief architect of the Constitution B.R. Ambedkar, has not even put its constitution on its website. Only the Congress, the BJP and the CPI (M) have put their manifestos for the last two general elections on their websites. The Communist Party of India, the NCP and the BSP are the defaulters.
When it comes to Assembly elections, the BJP has disclosed its manifesto only for Gujarat elections. The CPI and the CPI (M) have not provided their manifestos for West Bengal elections.
None of the six parties has put the details of inner party election. Predictably, they have also not given details of candidate selection and committees authorised to give ticket during elections.
When it comes to the idea of financial transparency, none of the parties provided details of movable/immovable properties in Delhi and outside Delhi. Neither have they disclosed the list of their donors/contributors, budget allocation, reports of election expenses during the Lok Sabha and Assembly elections.
Other important document information on their office-bearers, “memorandum of association,” inner party elections, financial structure, land and property allotments, membership forms and ticket distributions are also missing.
“Now that these parties have come within ambit of the transparency law they will have to provide the above mentioned information to the public, which will facilitate more democratic space for the common people to participate responsibly in politics,” said Anil Bairwal from the ADR.