BJP refuses to come under RTI, exposes its intent towards Transparency & Accountability
On a plea filed through Swaraj Abhiyan co-founder Prashant Bhushan, the BJP-led central government has told the Supreme Court that it was against the idea of bringing political parties under the Right to Information Act arguing that the move will adversely impact their “internal working.”
“If political parties come under the RTI it will affect their smooth internal functioning. Political rivals will file RTI applications with malicious intent,” the government said.
The unreasonable logic given by the government is hilarious to say the least. It’s a pertinent question as to what “internal functioning” will be adversely impacted if political parties come under the ambit of RTI. The argument that political rivals will use it to settle scores is similar to saying that a criminal should not be punished for fear of revenge by the other party.
The Center filed its response in compliance with apex court order asking the government why parties should not be brought within RTI ambit to make them more accountable to public.
Prashant Bhushan said that since the national political parties were exempt from filing income tax returns, it almost made them public funded bodies. Bhushan also added that if it wasn’t for their tax exemption, these parties would have had to deposit 35 percent of their donation to the exchequer. Prashant Bhushan had also urged the court to direct all such parties to disclose details regarding their income and expenditure.
On June 3, 2013, the Central Information Commission had declared six national political parties, the INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP and BSP to be “public authorities” under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. The CIC in its order had directed these political parties to designate “CPIOs and the Appellate Authorities at their headquarters within six weeks time.” Today, its not only the BJP whose intentions stand exposed but also the six national political parties who have arrogantly defied the lawful decision of the Central Information Commission.
Swaraj Abhiyan expresses deep concerns and doubts on the central government’s commitment towards transparency and accountability. It may also be noted that the present Modi government went without a Chief Information Commissioner for more than a year and has appointed one recently only after immense public pressure to do so. Swaraj Abhiyan reminds the political parties that they are not above the law of the land and hopes that the Supreme Court will uphold the law.