Mon, 18 Feb, 2019

Political parties out of RTI purview: Election Commission

28th May 2018, 03:00 Hrs



Political  parties are out of the purview of the RTI Act, the Election Commission  has said in an order which is contrary to the Central Information  Commission’s directive bringing six national parties under the  transparency law. 

 The poll panel statement, which may prove to be controversial, came  while deciding the appeal of an RTI applicant seeking to know donations  collected by six national parties who were brought under the ambit of  the transparency law by the CIC in June 2013. 

“Requisite information is not available in the Commission. This is  related to political parties and they are out of purview of the RTI.  They may submit information of donation/amount collected through by  Electoral bonds in their contribution report for the financial year  2017-18 in the ECI for which the due date is September 30, 2018,” the  appeal order citing comment of the Central Public Information Officer  has said.

Pune-based Vihar Dhurve had sought to know through RTI the  details of donations collected by the six national parties-- the BJP,  Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPM -- and the Samajwadi Party through newly  introduced electoral bonds. 

The First Appellate Authority in the Election Commission K F  Wilfred, the Senior Principal Secretary in poll panel, wrote in the  order that he agrees with the view taken by the CPIO. 

Six out of seven political parties -- the BJP, Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI  and CPM -- for which information was sought by the applicant were brought  under the ambit of the RTI Act by a full bench of the commission on  June 3, 2013. 

The order has not been challenged in the higher courts but the  political parties have refused to entertain the RTI applications  directed at them. Several activists have approached the Supreme Court on  the grounds of non-compliance of the CIC order and the matter is  pending. 

When it comes to the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission is  the only appellate authority which may declare a body as public  authority if it is convinced that the organisation fits into the  criteria for being under the Right to Information Act. 

“When the Central Information Commission has declared six national  political parties as public authority, the Election Commission cannot  take a position contrary to that unless the order of the CIC has been  overturned by the Supreme Court or High Courts. The order of EC has no  merit,” former Chief Information Commissioner A N Tiwari told PTI. 

Venkatesh Nayak, a noted activist on RTI matters, said the public  information officer of the election commission has exceeded his limits  in giving this order. 

“The June 2013 order of the CIC bringing six national political  parties under the RTI Act remains in force even if the political parties  do not obey it. It has not been stayed or set aside by any court.  Therefore, as far as national political parties are concerned they are  squarely covered under the