SUBHASH CHANDRA AGRAWAL
(Guinness Record Holder & RTI Activist)
It refers to welcome full-bench CIC-verdict holding political parties accountable under RTI Act which will induce much-needed transparency and accountability in present highly polluted political system. Transparency induced by the verdict will tend to impose a check on corruption, scams and scandals presently deep-rooted in our political system.
Some political parties and their leaders have created confusion that the verdict will make political parties accountable to Central Information Commission also in addition to Election Commission. Bringing political parties under RTI Act will make them accountable to members of public filing RTI petitions with them. Role of Central Information Commission will arise only if RTI petitioner approaches the Commission on not being satisfied with response from Public Information Officer and first Appellate Authority. Political parties even after CIC-verdict will be providing information direct to petitioners if Commission directs so.
Verdict should be welcome by all political parties for becoming better accessible to public. There are sufficient provisions under various sub-sections of exemption-clause 8(1) where undesired queries can be declined. There is also section 7(9) to decline information if it diverts resources of public-authority (political party) disproportionately. However there is also section 4(1)(b) where political parties should sue-motto make maximum sue-motto disclosure to reduce number of RTI petitions filed with them.