The government has bowed to pressure from activists and NGOs and decided to send a bill to amend the RTI Act to keep political parties out of its ambit to a parliamentary standing committee.
RTI activist Aruna Roy and others have been campaigning to send the bill to a parliamentary panel.
Minister of State for Personnel V Narayanasamy, who piloted the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2013, in the Lok Sabha last month, informed the House that in a bid to hold wider consultations, the government is recommending that the bill be referred to the standing committee on law and personnel. Several Opposition members supported the decision.
“The government took this decision to have a wider discussion on the subject. The NGOs will also have a chance to present their views,” Narayanasamy told reporters outside the House. The amendment bill is also aimed at negating a Central Information Commission (CIC) order which said political parties were public authorities and should come under the RTI Act’s ambit.
The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, seeks to insert an explanation in Section 2 of the act which states that any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, will not be considered a public authority.
The CIC order had termed Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPM public authorities.
Since the CIC order came on June 3, the amended act will come into force with retrospective effect from June.
The CIC order is still “operational,” meaning that people can seek information on political parties through RTI application.
The government had already made it clear that it will not challenge the CIC order in high court, the appellate court. It decided to bring a bill to nullify the verdict.
A bill seeking to keep political parties out of the RTI’s ambit has been sent to the standing committee for larger consensus, Narayanasamy said in the Lok Sabha on Thursday.