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Thread: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !

  1. #225

    Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    The Central Govt. by way of filing an affidavit in the Apex Court on 25.8.2015 has opposed the order of CIC bringing them within the ambit of RTI Act on the following grounds (as per media reports):-

    -That it was never the intention of the RTI Act to bring Political Parties under the Act.

    -That they will be exposed to malicious and frivolous queries from Citizens.

    -That declaring a political party as public authority under the RTI Act would hamper its smooth internal working which is not the objective of RTI Act.

    None of the grounds merits acceptance being alien to the object and purpose of the Act as are enunciated therein in preamble of the Act (bringing transparency/containing corruption/ensuring informed citizenry). The arguments are an act of desperation and a futile exercise to wriggle out from the clutches of the sunshine Act. On such superficial contentions they can not claim immunity form the Law, framed by their own in discharge of their Constitutional duties to legislate, which is a manifestation of ‘Parliamentary Will’. The Law is applicable with its full force to them as to any other stakeholder as no such absolute exemption has been bestowed on political parties. Taking any contrary view does not fit into the era of transparency which is he need of hour and which is preached at top of their voice by such entities day in and day out in routine. I am also tempted to toe the same line and subscribe to this opinion reminding myself of the avowed object of the Act.

    But the issue needs to be appreciated on the touchstones of the Act as is existing on the statute books and being oblivious to personal noble intentions however strong the temptation may be or desirability of bringing the political parties within the fold of the Act. Admittedly political parties can not be categorised as Public Authority under S. 2(h)(a/b/c/d-i) but applicability of Sub Cl. d(ii) require deeper examination in relation to the issue at hand. The first part of direct financing of these entities by Appropriate Govt. is not attracted as it is nobodys case that they are in receipt of any direct funding from Appropriate Govt. The later part contemplating Indirect Financing has the potential for not letting them go out of bounds of the Act. It is also settled that the financing by Appropriate Govt. has to be substantial in order to hold an entity a Public Authority. If the same is insignificant or trivial in contrast to overall financial position of the entity, it can legitimately lay claim to immunity from applicability of the Act in relation to itself.

    Let us take a look at the Law settled by the Apex Court in Thallapalam Case in the context of S. 2(h). The Court laid the law as under:-

    “27. Legislature, in its wisdom, while defining the expression “public authority” under Section 2(h), intended to embrace only those categories, which are specifically included, unless the context of the Act otherwise requires. Section 2(h) has used the expressions ‘means’ and includes’. When a word is defined to ‘mean’ something, the definition is prima facie restrictive and where the word is defined to ‘include’ some other thing, the definition is prima facie extensive. But when both the expressions “means” and “includes” are used, the categories mentioned there would exhaust themselves.---------- When such expressions are used, they may afford an exhaustive explanation of the meaning which for the purpose of the Act, must invariably be attached to those words and expressions.

    38. Merely providing subsidiaries, grants, exemptions, privileges etc., as such, cannot be said to be providing funding to a substantial extent, unless the record shows that the funding was so substantial to the body which practically runs by such funding and but for such funding, it would struggle to exist. The State may also float many schemes generally for the betterment and welfare of the cooperative sector like deposit guarantee scheme, scheme of assistance from NABARD etc., but those facilities or assistance cannot be termed as “substantially financed” by the State Government to bring the body within the fold of “public authority” under Section 2(h)(d)(i) of the Act. But, there are instances, where private educational institutions getting ninety five per cent grant-in-aid from the appropriate government, may answer the definition of public authority under Section 2(h)(d)(i).”

    Thus looking beyond the definition of the term Public Authority as provided in the Act is plainly not permissible as the definition exhausts itself leaving no scope for wide interpretation in the name of object and purpose of the Act. The argument that political parties are engaged in discharging their functions have public purpose or they bear public character pales into insignificance as far as the definition Clause is concerned which needs stricter interpretation. It also settled that an entity can not be brought within the ambit of Law merely by implication unless expressly provided under the law regulating the field but once the law is found to be applicable, there is no escape from the resultant consequences however undesirable/unpalatable they may be.

    Now let us apply the law to present controversy. The CIC held that political parties are Public Authorities for the following:-

    1. Political Parties are Substantially Financed by the Central Government as there is Allotment of land/Accommodations/Bungalows at Concessional Rentals/Total Tax Exemption/Free Airtime on Doordarshan & All India Radio. The fact of allotment of land at prime locations and at a concessional rate can be a determinative factor, if it tantamounts to substantial funding in the absence of which they will struggle to exist. Taking into consideration the financial net worth of these entities at present, this may not be categorised as a case of substantial funding. The other facts of allotment of housing/tax exemptions etc. does not carry any significant value in overall scheme of funding by Appropriate Govt. The reason of grant of free airtime on Radio and TV is in furtherance of canvassing their viewpoint as per their entitlement in conformity with settled Rules and Regulations and this has nothing to do with financing aspect. In this backdrop, I have my own doubts to the conclusion drawn by CIC in relation to the aspect of indirect substantial financing. None of the major political parties will struggle to exist if the Appropriate Govt. chose to withdraw these concessions.

    2. Heavy reliance has also been placed on the fact of Public Character of political parties which is immaterial to the context of present controversy as the efforts are not directed towards getting them declared as ‘State’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution. Hence it is a misdirected argument in bringing home the point of bringing these entities within the fold of S. 2(h)(d-ii). Similar is the effect of the observations that these entities are sui generis as they mould the public life. Equally redundant is the argument that this particular Section has to be widely interpreted owing to object and purpose of the Act. These facts will not withstand the challenge of binding interpretation of this Section by the Apex Court in Thallapalam Case.

    3. Further reliance by CIC on the fact of registration under and following the norms of REP Act, 1951 in filing statutory returns and superintendence of ECI is also bereft of content as these are stautory requirements which one needs to adhere to. This is amply demonstrable from the interpretation of the term ‘Control’ by the Apex Court in Thallapalam Case. Being controlled in terms of a Statute is entirely different from the kind of control envisaged under the Act. At the most, in case of non compliance, the recognition of an entity can be annulled but it can not lead to an irrefutable conclusion of being controlled by ECI directly or Appropriate Govt. indirectly.

    In the upshot of above discussion, I am at curious discomfort, to frame an unpalatable opinion to the contrary as has been held by CIC. I admit that my heart and mind are at their extreme opposite points being poles apart in applying my thoughts to the present controversy. I would happy to be proven wrong as a citizen.

    Note: In discussing the three points above, lead has been taken from the topic Political Parties Under RTI -Salient Features of the June 3rd, 2013, CIC judgment as is available of ADR website www.adr.org



  2. #226
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    Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    Political parties under RTI: CIC puts matter in ‘abeyance’

    Chief information commissioner R.K. Mathur has directed to keep ‘in abeyance’ the matter pertaining to political parties not adhering to the RTI Act

    Political parties under RTI: CIC puts matter in ‘abeyance’ - Livemint
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  3. Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    G r e a t E s c a p e.

  4. #228

    Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !



    Quote Originally Posted by karira View Post
    Political parties under RTI: CIC puts matter in ‘abeyance’


    Chief information commissioner R.K. Mathur has directed to keep ‘in abeyance’ the matter pertaining to political parties not adhering to the RTI Act

    Political parties under RTI: CIC puts matter in ‘abeyance’ - Livemint
    Respected Sirs,

    I have gone through the decision of the I.C in this regard. But why to keep the matter in abeyance ? and giving a long rope to Registered major political parties. Are they not coming under Sec. 2 (h) of the RTI Act 2005 ?? I presumbly hope the decision to keep the issue in abeyance has been taken due to political pressures and certain other extraneous circumstances. Sir I was dealing with RTI Act 2005 jobs since the implementation of the rti act in Oct. 2005 and had had the opportunities to visit CIC office and had the opportunities to interact with previous Hon'ble Commissioners S/Shri Wajahat Habibulla, A. N Tiwary etc etc. But the present decision, in keeping the matter in abeyance is very strange relevant to Sec. 2(h) of the provisions of the Act. More over we are hearing the proposal to amend the act and render the same a toothless tiger.

    Sirs, RTI.org a watch dog of RTI matters may kindly takeup the matter at the apex level and interact with Govt. and arrange to restore the dignity of the powerful RTI Act 2005 and restore the provisions as was before, without affecting the interests of the general citizens adversely.

    KUNNAH MOHANDAS

  5. #229
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    Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    And the saga goes on.........

    CIC uses delaying tactics by changing all the members of the bench that heard the case.
    Now we know why it was delayed for so looooong...they waited for 2 of the 3 members to demit office so they
    could reconstitute the bench and start hearing all over again.

    CIC reconstitutes bench to hear complaints against political parties

    CIC reconstitutes bench to hear complaints against political parties | The Indian Express
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  6. #230
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    Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    Attached is the Notice of Hearing issued by the CIC for 16 to 18 August 2017
    Attached Files Attached Files
    Twitter: @cjkarira

  7. Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    Please take it from me, political parties can certainly get out of the ambit of RTI Act to-day or tomorrow. Whether they are in or out makes no difference for a common man, as he can not prevent any happenings in stinking system. Citizens have seen the performance of those brooms already.

  8. #232
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    Re: Political parties not covered under RTI Act: CIC EDIT: Now under RTI !


    Partners in deceit

    Political parties stand together against transparency in politics

    The Rajya Sabha election has once again brought to the fore what political unanimity means in India. I first encountered it in early 2001, when the Union of India filed an appeal in the Supreme Court (SC) against a decision of the Delhi High Court requiring candidates contesting elections to disclose pending criminal cases. Political unanimity was on display when several parties intervened in the case in support of the government. But the SC upheld the HC judgment.

    Read More: Partners in deceit | The Indian Express
    Twitter: @cjkarira



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