CIC not competent to bring political parties under RTI, says Congress

The Commission was hearing the complaint against political parties for not responding to RTI applications seeking details of the donations received by them.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published: June 20, 2016 7:56 pm
CIC1 The Commission was hearing the complaint against political parties for not responding to RTI applications seeking details of the donations received by them.

Three years after six national parties were brought under the ambit of the RTI Act, Congress on Monday asked the Central Information Commission to set aside its 2013 full bench order, saying it is neither a court nor a competent authority to exercise plenary jurisdiction and the order is “arbitrary and illegal.”

Counsel for Congress K C Mittal today told a full bench of the Commission, which is hearing the complaint against political parties for not responding to RTI applications seeking details of the donations received by them, elections and other related issues, that an application has been moved to quash its order bringing political parties under the RTI Act.

“…It has been held that CIC is neither a court nor is competent to exercise plenary jurisdiction. There is no power even to decide upon its jurisdiction or interpret the provisions of the act and the definitions,” the plea filed by Congress treasurer Motilal Vora on June 17 said.

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The party, whose government opened a new chapter of transparency by enacting Right to Information in 2005, said as per Section 12 of the RTI Act, the Chief Information Commissioner has only limited powers of superintendence, directions and management of internal affairs of the Central Information Commission.

“It is further submitted that the powers conferred on the Commission are defined under Chapter V of the Act which no where gives the adjudicatory powers,” it said.

The plea said applicant (Association for Democratic Reforms and SC Agrawal) failed to substantiate their case and in the absence of any documents/evidence on record to show that the political parties are substantially financed by the Government, declaring political parties as substantially financed by the Government is “arbitrary and illegal”.

“The order…is based on surmise and conjecture. The order is without jurisdiction and has no sanction of law, therefore it is per se nullity and unenforceable,” it said. The petition said political parties have income from voluntary contributions from their members, individuals or companies.

“The exemptions, concessions given under a statute neither constitute financing a political party nor it amounts to financial contribution by a Government. Such concession and exemptions are allowed to large number of individuals, persons, bodies, organisations (but) they have not been brought under the RTI Act,” it said.

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