Is it the D day for the political parties?
On June 3, 2013, the full bench of the Central Information Commission (CIC) had declared that the six national parties namely Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI (M), CPI and BSP are public authorities and are covered under the purview of the RTI Act. The CIC had directed these parties to designate the Public Information Officer (PIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) apart from making the pro-active disclosures under section 4 of the Act. Almost one and a half year after the CIC’s order, none of the six political parties have either complied with the order or have taken any other recourse such as approaching the courts against the decision of the commission. The political parties have not set up any procedure for processing the RTI application as mandated under the RTI Act. Initially, there were reports of an amendment being brought before the Parliament to make changes in the RTI Act to remove the political parties from the ambit of the RTI Act.
Today, the issue of non implementation of the CIC order shall be taken up by a full bench of the CIC where the six parties including Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI (M), CPI and BSP will have to justify as to why no action should be initiated against them for non-compliance with the RTI Act. The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal and RK Jain are pursuing the non implementation of the order with the CIC. The ADR member Sharad Kumar criticised the political parties for alleged open defiance of a statutory authority by not implementing its order. A bench of Vijai Sharma, Manjula Parashar and Sharat Sabharwal will hear the complaint.
A strong action from the CIC may lead to enforcement of its verdict and bring sanctity to the institution of Information Commission. However, people familiar with the issue do not foresee any immediate action in the matter today.