New Delhi: The Right to Information Amendment Bill is likely to come up in the Lok Sabha on Thursday. The Bill is aimed at keeping political parties out of the RTI ambit. In June this year, the Chief Information Commissioner's office had passed an order saying political parties should come under the act as they were public authorities.
The government argued that political parties are not government or Constitutional bodies and do not take government funds hence should be kept out. Most major political parties are in agreement with the amendment except the Biju Janata Dal, Trinamool Congress and Communist Party of India.
The RTI (Amendment) Bill 2013 was introduced on August 12 in the Lower House by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V Narayanasamy. The Union Cabinet had cleared the proposal to amend the Act to give immunity to political parties and negate a Central Information Commission order to this effect. Many RTI activists have opposed the proposed amendments.
The Cabinet's decision had come nearly two months after the Central Information Commission's order of bringing six national political parties, Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP, under the RTI Act.
The government has proposed an amendment in Section 2 of the Act, which defines public authority, to shield the political parties. The proposed amendments, if accepted by Parliament, will make it clear that the definition of public authority shall not include any political party registered under the Representation of the People Act, officials said.
The CIC had in its order on June 3 held that the six national parties have been substantially funded indirectly by the Central government and were required to appoint public information officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act. The order had evoked sharp reactions from political parties, especially the Congress which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law. Many RTI activists have opposed the proposed amendments.
Meanwhile, the Monsoon Session of Parliament is likely to be extended by a day to pass some of the crucial bills including the Judges Appointment Bill and the Pension Bill, which will allow 49 per cent FDI in pension and insurance sector.
(with additional inputs from PTI)