The ‘secret’ cabinet note to exclude the political parties out of RTI Act made public
As per a Cabinet note on the proposed amendment which has been placed in public domain by the government, the bid to keep the political parties out of the purview of the right to information act is aimed at preventing politicians from using the information law ‘with malicious intentions’. The move of the Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) to put the Cabinet note on its website has received widespread appreciation from RTI activists and media. It marks the initiation of a major step to make the legislative process transparent. The citizens can know now have a look at how the cabinet examined the repercussions of the Central Information Commission order.
Following the Central Information Commission order that the political parties were covered under the definition of the public authorities as per section 2(h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any- (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government; of the RTI Act, there were calls from the political parties to exclude them from the purview of the RTI Act. A bill was introduced in the parliament to amend the RTI Act which has now been referred to the parliamentary standing committee.
Section 8(1)(i) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers: Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over: Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed; of the RTI Act excludes the disclosure of the cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers, provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over. The Cabinet note was put on the website of DoPT on Friday and is amongst the earliest, if not the first time that a Cabinet note has been put made public by putting it on the website.
The Cabinet note starts from the 23rd July, 2013, and has been put up by Mr Manoj Joshi, Joint Secretary, DoPT with the subject “Proposal for an amendment to the Right to Information Act, 2005 in the light of the decision of Central Information Commission dated 03.06.2013 in the case of political parties”. Initially, the DoPT proposed promulgating an ordinance to nullify the CIC decision but it was later decided to place an amendment bill before Parliament instead. After the legislative department pointed that the provision “suggested by the Department of Legal Affairs would confine only to the 52 recognized (National/State parties) out of 1,444 political parties registered with the Election Commission as on 18 January 2013, it was amended again.
Readers may refer to the “Cabinet note for amendment to the Right to Information Act, 2005” – Link - http://www.rtifoundationofindia.com/cabinet-note-amendment-right-information-act-2005