The government's move to amend the RTI Act came after a CIC order that said political parties were public bodies and hence, were under the ambit of the act.
"Apart from the obvious conflict of interest, there is a moral question here. All NGOs should also be declared public authorities in that anybody who receives significant government grants should be deemed such. Everybody should be willing to come under scrutiny," said NCPRI co-convenor, Nikhil Dey. He said if nationwide protests fail to move political parties, every means, including going to court, would be considered.
Former NAC member Aruna Roy said the mood in the country is overwhelmingly pro-RTI and the government move to exempt political parties was an "opportunity lost". On the NAC's silence in the matter, she said, "I am not a member any more. In any case, many NAC members signed our letter to the PM opposing the proposed amendments." Roy said while political parties need to be empowered, it should not mean they become unaccountable. She referred to the lack of public consultation on this issue by parties as a "trivialization of democracy".
Speaking on the issue, journalist Vinod Mehta said: "Political parties receive government land, get donations from the public. If they are not public authorities I do not know who are."
Former NAC member Harsh Mander recalled the instance of how the SC had moved the Delhi High Court so as to keep the judiciary out of the purview of RTI illustrating that "anybody in a position of power does not want RTI."
RJD leader opposes proposed amendments
NEW DELHI: Senior RJD leader Raghuvansh Prasad Singh opposed amendments to the RTI Act which seek to keep political parties out of its ambit. "I am not in agreement with both - parties coming together to seek exclusion from RTI as well as government bringing amendments to the law to that effect. Why are we afraid of being transparent? Rather there should have been a provision of self disclosure. But in this case, we are now denying to give information even when it is sought," he told reporters. ENS