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HindustanTimes Sat,19 Apr 2014

Government set to keep political parties out of RTI

Nagendar Sharma, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 28, 2013
First Published: 00:34 IST(28/6/2013) | Last Updated: 02:36 IST(28/6/2013)

Political parties have come together to shut the door on sharing information with citizens and the government, buoyed by the near-consensus among the political class, is planning changes to the Right to Information Act.

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It may take the amendment route or even promulgate an ordinance to keep political parties out of the ambit of the information act.

The amendments to the act will overturn the June 3 order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) which said six major political parties came within the ambit of the transparency law.

The department for personnel and training, which deals with all matters RTI, has received the first draft of the proposed ordinance from the law ministry.    

The government will pick between the ordinance route or amendment bill only after the dates of the monsoon session of Parliament are decided. Normally, the session begins in the third week of July.  

Though the CIC order specifically referred to the Congress, BJP, Communist Party of India, CPI (Marxist), Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party, almost all parties, barring a few, vehemently opposed the ruling, accusing the CIC of overstepping its jurisdiction.

The government was critical of the ruling, but hesitated taking steps against the order. It now seems to have shed its inhibitions.

The changes proposed, it is learnt, will make it clear that political parties couldn't be categorised as public authorities, the definition of which has been wrongly interpreted by the CIC.

An explanation might be added to the act that political parties are an association of individuals and the transparency law is not aimed at disturbing the functioning of the parties.

List of organisations exempt from providing information under the RTI act is expected to change as well.

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