Parties have a point in opposing RTI Act inclusion: CJI Chandrachud

D Y Chandrachud made the remarks as the court considered a batch of pleas seeking to declare national and regional political parties as “public authorities” under the RTI Act.
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud (File Photo | PTI)
Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud (File Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: Chief Justice of India D Y Chandrachud on Tuesday said that political parties may have a point when they fear that bringing them under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act may encroach their “internal decision-making”.

He made the remarks as the court considered a batch of pleas seeking to declare national and regional political parties as “public authorities” under the RTI Act.

Responding to a submission made by a counsel representing the Communist Party of India (Marxist) that there cannot be requests (under RTI) on why a candidate was selected and demands for details on the internal decision-making process of a party, Chandrachud said, “They have a point. They say don’t ask us to disclose how we chose our candidates. I don’t think you can do that.”

The pleas, which were filed by Association for Democratic Reforms and Advocate Ashwini Upadhyay, had argued that the Central Information Commission (CIC) in 2013 and 2015 had declared national and regional political parties to be public authorities and passed an order for the inclusion of parties receiving benefits like tax exemptions and land from the government under the RTI.

Opposing the pleas, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the Centre, said, “Basically they want to know how the parties function. The CIC order cannot be used to seek a writ of mandamus to bring political parties under the RTI.”

Terming the CIC’s decision as erroneous, the Centre in an affidavit filed way back in 2016 had said political parties are registered under the Election Commission of India under The Representation of the People Act, 1950.

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