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HindustanTimes Fri,28 Nov 2014

Now, regional parties face RTI onslaught

Chetan Chauhan, Hindustan Times  New Delhi, June 15, 2013
First Published: 15:49 IST(15/6/2013) | Last Updated: 01:00 IST(16/6/2013)

The Central Information Commission's order bringing six national political parties under the RTI ambit has opened a Pandora's box for the regional parties.

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They have been receiving hordes of application seeking information since the June 3 CIC order.

Most of the applications have been filed with an aim to get regional parties declared as public authorities under RTI by state information commissions (SCICs) as the CIC has done for Congress, BJP, BSP, CPI, CPIM and NCP.

"We have received about a dozen RTI applications in the last 10 days or so," said an office in-charge at Janata Dal (United) office at Jantar Mantar, oblivious of the fact that the CIC's covered only national parties and not state parties.

Biswajit Mohanty, an Odisha based wildlife activist, was the first to file an RTI application with Biju Janata Dal (BJD) seeking information about party funding.

On refusal to provide information by the party, Mohanty plans to file an appeal with Odisha State Information Commission to declare BJD a public authority under the RTI Act.

Several other RTI activists in the state have also filed information applications with BJP. "We have received many applications," said a person, who did not identify himself at BJD's office in Bhuvaneshwar.

In Jammu and Kashmir, a group of RTI activists have separate RTI applications with three state level parties --- National Conference, Peoples Democratic Front and J&K National Panthers Party --- seeking information on funding, indirect benefit from the state government and expenses for the last five years.

Although the Central RTI law does not apply to J&K, the activists say they want the parties to come under the ambit of the state's information law like the CIC has brought political parties under RTI ambit elsewhere.

Samajwadi party may have felt initial solace of not been covered by the CIC order but activists have filed applications with its office in Lucknow to bring it under RTI other political parties in the state --- BSP, BJP and BSP.

"We will file appeal with the state information commission if the information is not provided," said Shailender Kumar an Allahabad based RTI activist.

Even though the CIC gave political parties six weeks to implement it order some activists appear to be in a hurry. Kashinath Shetve, a former government employee, filed an RTI application with BJP in Goa two days after the CIC order.


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