Govt seeks cabinet nod to keep political parties out of RTI

NEW DELHI, July 30:  Government has decided to keep political parties out of the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act and may seek approval of an amendment at a meeting of Union Cabinet on Thursday.

A draft note on the issue has been prepared by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT)–nodal department for implementation of the transparency law–seeking to amend RTI Act 2005 and it will be put up before the Cabinet for its nod, official sources said.

The move comes after the Central Information Commission (CIC) last month held that six national parties –Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP–have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs) as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.

The CIC had given a six-week deadline to all these political parties to appoint PIOs and Appellate Authorities (AAs) for the purpose.

The decision from transparency watchdog evoked sharp reactions from political parties, especially Congress. The party which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law opposed the directive.

Of the six political parties, only CPI has followed the CIC’s order in time and even responded to an RTI query.

The Government seeks to change the definition of public authorities mentioned under Section 2 of the RTI Act to keep all recognised political parties out of the jurisdiction of RTI, the sources said.

After Cabinet’s nod, the government will have to introduce a Bill in this regard in the Monsoon Session of Parliament beginning August 5, they said.

The Centre’s flagship Right to Information Act empowers a citizen to seek time-bound information on all matters of governance by paying a fee of Rs 10.

The Ministry of Personnel will also seek Cabinet approval on August 1 in for official amendments in Whistle-blowers Protection Bill, which seeks to keep information that could compromise strategic and economic interests and impact foreign relations out of the ambit of the Bill aimed at protection of whistle-blowers from harassment. (AGENCIES)


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