Home / Politics / Policy /  RTI will affect the functioning of political parties: Govt to SC

New Delhi: The Union government has told the Supreme Court that bringing political parties under the scope of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, would affect the smooth functioning of these parties.

In an affidavit filed on 21 August, the centre said both the Representation of the People Act, 1951, and the Income Tax Act, 1961, have adequate measures to ensure that transparency is maintained in the accounts of political parties.

In response to the Supreme Court’s notice issued to it on 7 July, the Union government said bringing a political party under the ambit of public authority as defined by the RTI Act will “hamper its smooth functioning".

The move may also expose a political party to a large number of malicious RTI applications by rival political parties, according to the affidavit. Mint has reviewed a copy of the affidavit.

The apex court is considering a public interest litigation filed by non-profit Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) that has sought a declaration equating political parties with public authorities.

In August last year, too, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led government had made its stand clear on the issue when minister of state for personnel and training Jitendra Singh said in a written reply to the Rajya Sabha that bringing a political party under the RTI Act could “hamper its smooth internal working, which is not the objective of the RTI Act".

At the last hearing, lawyer Prashant Bhushan, representing ADR, had said that the legislature is ultimately controlled by political parties, which received tax exemptions and powers to deal with defection under the constitution. ADR’s petition relied on two orders of the Central Information Committee that ruled that political parties should be considered public authorities. The orders were not implemented.

The Congress, the BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Community Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) are some of the national parties that may be affected by the outcome of the case.

Anuja contributed to this story.

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