A bill was introduced in the Lok Sabha on Monday to keep political parties out of the ambit of the RTI Act and negate a Central Information Commission (CIC) order to this effect under the transparency law.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013 seeks to insert an explanation in Section 2 of the Act which states that any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People Act, 1951 will not be considered a public authority. The CIC order had termed Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPI-M as political authorities. “The expression authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by any law made by Parliament shall not include any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People Act, 1951,” the explanation reads.
Referring to the CIC order of June, the bill also makes it clear that anything contained in any judgement, decree or order of any court or commission will not affect the status of political parties recognised under the RP Act.
Since the CIC order on six major political parties came on June 3, the amended Act will come into force with retrospective effect from June 3.
“With a view to remove the adverse effects of the said decision,” the bill states it is necessary to give "retrospective effect" to the proposed amendment. "It is an attempt to hamper citizens' right to know. The government is trying to block transparency in the system from the proposed amendments," Garg said.
The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill states “the government considers that the CIC has made a liberal interpretation of Section 2 (h) of the said (RTI) Act in its decision". It points out that there are provisions in the RP Act as well as the Income Tax Act which deal with transparency in the financial aspects of parties and their candidates.