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HT Correspondent, Hindustan Times
Hoshiarpur, July 20, 2013
The Socialist Party (India) has criticised the UPA government's decision to bring an amendment to the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the form of a bill in the Parliament to exempt political parties from the definition of public authority. Party's national vice-president Balwant Singh Khera called the move against the spirit of the transparency law.

The government has recently moved a cabinet note to amend the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its ambit. In June, the chief information commissioner had ruled that political parties came under the ambit of the RTI act and had directed the president and general secretaries of the parties to comply within six weeks of the order.

It had held that political parties were public authorities and  would have to share information about their organisations and funding, if sought. Parties had argued that they were not public authorities and so should not be brought under the RTI Act. The government had first decided to bring an Ordinance to keep six political parties from the purview of the Right RTI Act, but has now proposed an amendment in the Act.

Khera had written to President Pranab Mukhrerjee also to withhold the Ordinance. He said that  political parties were heavily funded by the centre and state governments and enjoyed many other incentives including rebate on their annual income, hence they were not justified in seeking exemption under the RTI Act.