Is an amendment in RTI Act planned to exclude political parties?
Accordingly to unconfirmed reports, the Central government is planning to bring an ordinance to overturn the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which held that the six major political parties are covered under the RTI Act. The full bench of CIC had held that the Congress, BJP, Communist Party of India, CPI (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party should appoint a Public Information Officer (PIO) and respond to RTI applications.
The government is also reportedly talking to other political parties to evolve a consensus before taking any further steps. With all the political parties publically opposing the CIC order, the consensus already seems to be in place. It has been claimed that an amendment in the RTI Act, 2005 or an ordinance to keep political parties out of its ambit is being thought of as possible alternatives. The decision as to whether the ordinance route or amendment bill is to be introduced is likely to be taken around the third week of July when the Monsoon Session of Parliament begins. It may be possible that a special session of parliament may be called for it.
It has been contended that the Department for Personnel and Training (DoPT) is already in receipt of the first draft of the proposed ordinance from the Law Ministry. The proposed amendment shall make it clear that political parties cannot be categorised as 'public authorities' and they are in fact 'association of individuals'. There is a likelihood of adding the Political parties to the list of organisations which is exempt from disclosing information under the RTI Act. Information and Broadcasting Minister Manish Tewari said "The intent of RTI Act was not to cover political parties. Else, it should have been explicitly stated."