Is the Right to Information Act applicable to get information on the affairs of Parliament, its proceedings and on expunged remarks? This is a question being faced by the authorities at a time when parliamentary committees face two key issues: codification of privileges of MPs, and offices of profit.
Sources said demands under the RTI Act for original documents placed before the two Houses and on remarks expunged by the Chair were increasing. The authorities are yet to determine whether Parliament, as an institution, is required under the RTI Act to furnish such information.
The Lok Sabha privileges committee and another committee looking into misconduct by MPs are studying these issues for the past few months and will submit reports soon to Speaker Somnath Chatterjee.
What exactly constitutes a breach of parliamentary privilege has never been precisely defined. The privileges committee of the Lok Sabha has been working on trying to determine if there was a need to codify such privileges. The privileges committee is also expected to decide on November 16 on the "headless chickens" controversy involving India’s ambassador to the United States Ronen Sen in the light of his apology.
Some reports have suggested that the committee has decided not to proceed with the matter in view of Mr Sen’s explanation.
Mr Sen is scheduled to also appear before the Rajya Sabha privileges committee on November 2 for a similar hearing.
The committee on Wednesday finalised its report on the issue of disqualification of three BSP MPs, and this will be submitted to the Speaker. Sources said the committee’s proceedings were more in the nature of fact-finding and it had not gone into the merits of the case.
The BSP has filed petitions against Mohammad Shahid Akhlaque, Ramakant Yadav and Bhalchandra Yadav, who have already appeared before the committee.
According to RTI Act (2005) 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 organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government;
if this is the definintion of a public authority, isn't the parliament clearly a public authority as per section 2 (h) (a) of the act being established by the Cojnstitution...? and if it is a public authority, it most obviously comes under hte purview of the act. then, unless the information asked is objectionation as per section 8 of the act, informaiton cannot be denied tot he applicant.....