Cannot accept CIC order on political parties: CPI(M)

Published: 04th June 2013 04:35 PM  |   Last Updated: 04th June 2013 04:35 PM   |  A+A-

By PTI

The CPI(M) today slammed the CIC ruling on bringing political parties under the RTI ambit as a serious infringement on inner-party functioning and said it cannot accept the order.

In a statement, the CPI(M) Politburo contended that a political party was a voluntary association of citizens who believe in the ideology, programme and the leadership, and it was accountable only to its membership.

It also asked the government to discuss the "serious implications" of the CIC order with all political parties so that suitable steps can be taken to preserve the integrity and the role of political parties in a democratic political system.

"To apply the Right to Information Act and demand access to the internal deliberations of the party whether it be on policy matters, organisational decisions or selection of candidates will constitute a serious infringement on the inner-party functioning, confidentiality of discussions and undermine the political party system itself," it said.

The CPI(M) said opponents of a political party can utilise the RTI as an instrument to destabilise a party.

"The CPI(M) cannot accept the order of the Central Information Commission that political parties are to be treated as "public authorities" and brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act. This decision is based on a fundamental misconception about the role of political parties in a parliamentary democracy," the statement said.

On concerns of the CIC on transparency of the funding and finances of political parties, the CPI(M) said under the law the political parties have to submit their accounts to the Income Tax Department and the Election Commission.

"Already under the RTI, the statement of accounts and the finances of the parties are accessible to anyone from the Election Commission. Any more details of the financing of the Party can be sought for and has to be given," it said.

  Maintaining that it has always favoured making financial statements and accounts of a party public, the Politburo said: "But this does not mean that a political party has to be treated as a public authority."

"This will interfere with and hamper the functioning of a political party," it said.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) yesterday held that the parties are public authorities and answerable to citizens under RTI Act.

The CIC, a quasi-judicial body, has said that six national parties Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and they have the character of public authority under the RTI Act as they perform public functions.

After the order of the full bench of CIC, the parties will be answerable to the citizens regarding their source of funding, how they spend money and choice of candidates for elections, among other issues.

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