Should the religious trusts be within the purview of the RTI Act?
The State Information Commission (SIC) had held that SGPC and Sri Guru Ramdas Charitable Trust, which is managed by SGPC, are covered under the definition of the public authorities as per the RTI Act and thus, were liable to provide information sought by citizen under the RTI Act.
The President of SGPC, Shri Avtar Singh Makkar has argued that the SGPC should be kept out of the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act as it is a the religious body of the Sikhs and runs on the donations given by the people. He said that the SGPC worked under Sikh Gurdwara Act 1925, and all its accounts were audited by the auditors of the central government. Further, any one could approach the Sikh Gurdwara Judicial Commission to lodge a complaint regarding the mismanagement in the SGPC. He added that bringing SGPC under the ambit of Right to Information Act was unfair and amounts to hurting the religious sentiments of Sikhs.
He claimed that under the RTI Act, anybody could seek frivolous information from SGPC like who has provided donations, how it was received and how many people partook Langar, how much food was prepared in the Langar. He added that it was not possible to provide such information.
Irrespective of the religion they claim to represent, many of the religious organisations have been under the lens for allegations related to corruption and diversion of funds. When all other instruments have failed to keep them under check, why not to give the RTI Act a try?