Maintaining that a political party could not be treated as an NGO and the Central Information Commission (CIC) had exceeded its brief, CPM leader Prakash Karat on Friday sought amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act in Parliament.
“The CIC’s move to extend the purview of the RTI Act by declaring that a political party is a ‘public authority’ is misconceived and wrong,” Karat has said in an article in the CPM organ ‘People’s Democracy’. “This order stems from a lack of understanding and a basic misconception about the role of political parties in a parliamentary democracy,” he said.
The CPM leader pointed out that going by the CIC’s new order, anyone could ask for access to internal deliberations of a political party.
“To demand that such deliberations be made available will be a serious infringement on the nature of inner-party discussions and the way decisions are taken by a political party.’’
“This can lead to undermining of the structure of a political party. By such a dispensation under the RTI Act, for example, a BJP member can demand information about the internal matters of the CPM and vice versa. Opponents of a political party can thus utilise the RTI Act as an instrument against another party,” he said.
On RTI demands regarding selection of candidates which could be made under the new CIC ruling, he said: “How a party selects its candidates is its own business. How is it a concern of others? In a democracy, the people are free to judge and decide which candidate to vote for or not.”
“In a democratic system, a political party has the right to decide whom to put up as a candidate..according to whatever criteria they wish to adopt which are within the legal framework. If there is any need for a change in the law, it can be discussed. But the intrinsic right of a political party cannot be questioned or subjected to any public scrutiny,” he added.
Karat also made it clear that when Parliament had adopted the RTI Act in 2005, which the CPM had supported, Parliament had no intention to bring political parties, as ‘public authorities’, under its purview.