What is the status of CIC order regarding political parties?
In the absence of any stay order from the higher judicial forum, the Central Information Commission (CIC) order remains in force and the political parties have to comply with the same. Even the parliament has now referred the matter to a committee which leaves little margin for the parties not to comply with the CIC order. The CIC had directed the six national political parties to appoint public information officers and respond to RTI applications. Failure to follow the CIC order may lead to possible risk of legal action, including summons to party presidents. All the organizations declared as public authorities in the past by the CIC had either complied by the order or obtained a stay from the courts.
On July 28, the CIC received a complaint of "non-compliance" of its June 3 order from SC Agrawal who, along with Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), had filed the application in the case. The six week period granted by the CIC to enforce its order has already expired and the CIC can act on the complaint by issuing a show cause notice to parties. Section 18(3) The Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, shall, while inquiring into any matter under this section, have the same powers as are vested in a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), in respect of the following matters, namely:- (a) summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons and compel them to give oral or written evidence on oath and to produce the documents or things; (b) requiring the discovery and inspection of documents; (c) receiving evidence on affidavit; (d) requisitioning any public record or copies thereof from any court or office; (e) issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents; and (f) any other matter which may be prescribed. of the RTI Act empowers the CIC with the same powers as those vested in a civil court allowing it to summon and enforce attendance of persons when it is conducting an enquiry. The CIC can direct a person to give oral or written evidence as also to produce documents.
The next session of the parliament is going to start in mid November and hence - Congress, BJP, CPM, NCP and BSP - have little likelihood of relief from any quarter. CPI has implemented the CIC order ruling.