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CIC urged to suspend indirect govt-funding to parties defying RTI order

PTI New Delhi | Updated on February 22, 2018 Published on February 22, 2018

A file photo of RTI activist Subhash Agrawal.   -  Rajeev Bhatt

“Political parties are not complying with directions of an autonomous body constituted through a legislation passed none other than by parties themselves.”

The CIC should invite suggestions from various stake-holders including regulatory bodies on temporarily suspending indirect government-funding, such as tax rebate and subsidised offices, to six national political parties which are allegedly not following its order to come under the RTI Act, an activist has said.

Subhash Agrawal, who is one of the complainants in the case against political parties, has written to Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur suggesting that indirect government-funding to the six parties that were declared public authority by a full bench of the Commission in 2013, be temporarily suspended.

A full bench of the Commission has declared six national parties—the BJP, Congress, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPM—as public authorities on June 3, 2013 on the ground that they were indirectly funded by the government through relaxation in taxes, subsidised offices and air time, among other facilities.

A number of complaints reached the Commission that the political parties were not complying with its order hence penalties should be imposed on them.

The Commission had constituted “first a three-member bench and later a four member bench”, but no hearing has taken place since December, 2016. The latest hearing scheduled for February 20 was postponed without giving any reason, Agrawal said.

“It is a unique matter where law-making political parties are not complying with directions of an autonomous body constituted through a legislation passed none other than by parties themselves,” he said.

He said there is no timeline as to when they will abide by law. “I request that you may kindly at least invite comments from all concerned ones including concerned political parties, central and state governments, concerned government departments and other autonomous bodies including CBDT, CBEC, Prasar Bharti, Election Commission and Union Ministry of Urban Development seeking their views on interim suspension of indirect government-funding,” he wrote.

He said this is necessary because direct and indirect government-funding to political parties was one of the major aspects considered by the CIC to take them under the purview of the RTI Act.

Published on February 22, 2018
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