Political parties out of RTI purview: Election Commission

PTI
Sunday, 27 May 2018

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.

NEW DELHI: 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. 

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 RTI act.

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