Congress, BJP flout CIC order, may face heat

By on March 10, 2014

NEW DELHI: Political parties including Congress and BJP have ignored a four-week deadline set by the Central Information Commission (CIC) and could be liable for Rs 25,000 fine or even deregistration.

The commission had issued a showcase notice on February 7 to six national political parties — Congress, BJP, NCP, BSP, CPI and CPM, AAP — seeking an explanation on why they had not complied by its June 3 order which mandated that the six parties came under the information act and must appoint public information officers to respond to RTI queries.

A full bench of the commission had declared that the six political parties were substantially funded indirectly by the central government and they had the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they performed public functions.

The commission had given them six weeks to comply with the RTI Act but so far, none of the parties has followed the direction prompting RTI activist Subhash Agrawal, who was one of the petitioners in the case, to file three non-compliance complaints before it.

Agrawal said the commission should hold an early hearing and recommend stringent action including deregistration of the parties to the Election Commission. CIC can also fine a maximum penalty of Rs 25,000.

The CIC inaction has been preceded by the government bringing a bill to exclude political parties from the ambit of RTI Act. Though the bill was tabled in Lok Sabha and received support from a parliamentary panel, it was finally not taken up.

The stringent opposition to “weakening” the act and the message that political parties were against transparency led to the bill being put on hold. However, CIC has dragged its feet in taking any action against political parties that are clearly in violation of its own order.

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