As the Central Information Commission (CIC) Monday held that political parties are answerable under the Right to Information Act, External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid said it is important to "keep practical control of RTI objectives as they can't be allowed to run riot".
Answering a query on the CIC's ruling on the sidelines of an event Monday evening, Khurshid said there is a "logic of the RTI, which is periodically reflected in its orders. That logic of the RTI act would be gradually tested at all levels including at levels of the courts".
"But it is important to keep practical control of RTI objectives because they can't be allowed to run riot as the purpose is that people who hold public offices must be accountable to the world and to ordinary citizens."
"There are other areas one can go and seek information, but for that one has to go through a procedure. It is an evolving process,-- a balance between public interest of one kind and of another kind must be maintained," Khurshid said.
A full bench of the CIC comprising Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra and Information Commissioner M.L. Sharma and Annapurna Dixit held six parties - Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, Communist Party of India-Marxist, Communist Party of India, Nationalist Congress Party and Bahujan Samaj Party - to whom RTI queries were directed, fulfill the criteria of being public authorities under the RTI Act.
"The presidents, general secretaries of these parties are hereby directed to designate CPIOs and appellate authorities at their headquarters in six weeks. The CPIOs so appointed will respond to the RTI applications extracted in this order in four weeks time," the bench directed.
The case relates to RTI queries from activist Subhash Agrawal and Anil Bairwal of Association of Democratic Reforms who had sought to know the finances of, voluntary financial contributions received by the six parties and the names and addresses of the donors besides other details which were refused as the political parties claimed they do not come under the RTI Act.