India’s transparency panel has issued fresh notices to the chiefs of all the six national parties for not responding to Right to Information queries on their functioning, finances and other issues.
In the Full Bench hearing scheduled on June 20, CIC has clubbed cases of 17 RTI applicants of similar nature, including activist R K Jain.
“Take notice that the above complaints/appeals (copy enclosed for the respondents) in respect of RTI requests filed by the aforesaid complainants/appellants have been listed for hearing before a Full Bench of this Commission.” the notice said.
RTI activist RK Jain, whose RTI queries regarding functioning and finances of political parties had remained unanswered, has named the then chiefs of the national parties in his complaint because in such proceedings the liability is of individual who was holding the position when the RTI application was being handled by the public authority.
The fresh notices are issued to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, the BJP president, president/general secretary of NCP and BSP and general secretaries of CPI (M) and CPI.
Besides Central Public Information Officer of the Election Commission has also been asked to appear during the hearing.
In 2013, on a plea by RTI activist Subhash Agrawal and Association of Democratic Reforms, the CIC had declared Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI, CPI-M and BSP as public authorities within the meaning of Right to Information Act of 2005.
The order, effectively, brought the political parties under the public oriented transparency law as the information commission found them sufficiently funded by public money.
CIC is the final appellate authority in RTI matters whose decisions can be challenged through writ petitions in High Courts.
No political party has approached the constitutional courts challenging the order of the CIC so far.