NEW DELHI: The Central government on Monday told the Supreme Court that political parties should not be brought under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act by terming them ‘public authorities’ since it would not only hamper their smooth functioning, but help political rivals to file pleas with malafide intent to seek information.
In an affidavit filed by the government, the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) said, “When the RTI Act was enacted, it was never visualised that political parties would be brought within the ambit of the transparency law.”
“I further submit that during the process of enactment of the RTI Act, it was never visualised or considered to bring the political parties within the ambit of the said Act.
“If the political parties were to be held as public authorities under the RTI Act, it would hamper their smooth internal working,” the affidavit said.
“Further, it is apprehended that political rivals might file RTI applications with malicious intentions to the CPIOs of political parties, thereby, adversely affecting their political functioning,” it said.
“Declaring a political party as public authority under the RTI Act would hamper its smooth internal working which is not the objective of RTI Act and was not envisaged by Parliament under the RTI Act,” it said.
The affidavit said there were provisions in the Representation of the People Act (RPA) 1951, and the Income Tax Act which ensured necessary transparency regarding the financial aspects of a political party.
The government’s affidavit came in response to a notice issued to it on a plea to declare all national and regional political parties, including the BJP, the Congress and the Left parties, to bring them under the ambit of the RTI .
The government maintained that the Central Information Commission (CIC) had made a very liberal interpretation of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, which has led to an erroneous conclusion that political parties are public authorities.