The Central Information Commission (CIC) had given a landmark ruling last week bringing all political parties under the purview of the Right to Information Act (RTI). This would ensure more transparency in the funding and functioning of the Political Parties in the country.

All major political parties of the country will be accountable to the citizens of India. Any citizen of India will be able to query any political party about the source of their funding, the methods adopted by the parties in choosing their candidates for elections, the amount of money each party spends in elections, how they spend it and on what, etc.

Naturally most political parties have strongly opposed this move. Except for BJP which sees no wrong in this move by CIC in making all political parties answerable to the citizens of the country, all other parties including Congress, JD(U), Left parties have opposed this move strongly.

The CIC ruled on June 3 that

We have no hesitation in concluding that Congress, BJP, CPI-M, CPI, NCP and BSP have been substantially financed by the central government and therefore they are held to be public authorities under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act

The reason CIC provided for this move was that, since all these political parties were substantially financed by the Central government in the form of tax exemptions, free air time in All India Radio and Doordarshan, it automatically qualifies the political parties as public authorities under the RTI act. Hence all these political parties should be answerable under RTI to the citizens of the country.

The CIC has said that the political parties in the country

affect the lives of the citizens, directly or indirectly in every conceivable way and are continuously engaged in performing public duty. It is, therefore, important that they become accountable to public.

The CIC has ordered all political parties to setup Information Officers within the next six weeks, and start responding to any RTI applications they might receive from the citizens of the country.

Reacting to this order JD(U) chief Sharad Yadav is reported to have said that

Political parties are not shops

Who said that shops come under RTI? It is the public institutions which impact the lives of the citizens in this country which are supposed to come under RTI. And given that political parties do impact the public life in the country, CIC has concluded very rightly that they should come under RTI.

JD(U) chief also has said that, will they be answerable to Election Commission and CIC at the same time. So shall we remind him that, under RTI, it is not the CIC that will ask them queries, but the common man of this country, who also votes them to power. By rejecting to bring themselves under RTI, the political parties are refusing to be answerable to the citizens of this country.

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