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All National Political Parties Deny Information On Donors Under RTI Except CPI, Complaint Filed With CIC

22 September 2012 No Comment

RTI Activist News

All National Political Parties Deny Information On Donors Under RTI To ADR Except CPI, Complaint Filed With CIC

On being asked about their donors under RTI, CPI provides information. All other national parties BJP, INC, NCP, BSP, CPM refuse saying they do not come under RTI!!!!

CIC to hear the complaint on 26th Sept after a year and half of filing of complaint

Political parties behavior completely opposite to their stated position of trying to bring in transparency.

New Delhi: Sept 22, 2012: On being asked questions through RTI on their largest donors and the manner of these donations by Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR), all national political parties except for CPI declined to give the information. While CPI provided the information about their largest donors, their addresses, the mode of payment of these donations, etc., other parties either didn’t reply or simply said that they did not come under RTI.

In a letter signed by their then general secretary Mr A B Bardhan, CPI said that it is a Public Authority as the organization is substantially financed directly or indirectly by government funds. It also said that they have an internal appellate authority in case we were not satisfied by the information received.

INC (Indian National Congress) however returned the RTI letter along with the postal order. In a letter signed by Mr Motilal Vohra, it said that since AICC does not come under RTI, it was returning the letter along with the postal order fee.

BJP did not even respond to the RTI application. Neither did BSP. NCP replied but said that it didn’t have enough man-power to provide the information asked for.

CPI(M), also returned the RTI application along with the postal order. Through a letter singed by Mr Hari Singh Kang, Member Central Secretariat, CPI(M), it said that CPI(M) is not a public authority as per the provisions of RTI Act and hence under no obligation to provide the information.

Making these replies the basis, ADR had filed a complaint with CIC in Mar 2011 to direct the political parties to give this information. This complaint has now come for hearing along with another complaint of Mr Subhash Agarwal, a RTI activist.

ADR said in a statement that the leaders of all political parties publically maintain that they are committed to transparency and probity in the functioning of political parties. However when it comes to the implementation, their behavior is completely opposite. These replies bring to the fore the biggest farce that our democracy is plagued with – the opaque functioning of political parties with no space for engagement with the citizens and no willingness to open themselves to public scrutiny.

Association for Democratic Reforms and National Election Watch in 2008 had also won the CIC judgement making IT returns and contribution reports of political parties available in the public domain. Even at that time all political parties had opposed to part with this information. CIC had however directed the Income Tax authorities to make this information public as there was huge public interest in the information.

It is common knowledge that the political parties get lot of benefits and facilities from various govt departments. As a recent report of ADR and National Election Watch showed, they have huge income and all of their income is tax exempt.

Political parties get substantially financed by a very large amount by getting tax exemption on all their income. In addition all the major political parties have been also provided facilities for residential and official use by Directorate of Estates (DoE). They have been given offices and accommodations at prime locations like Akbar road, Raisina road, Chanakyapuri etc and are charged only a token of money as rent or dues. These facilities are not just provided to them at marginal rates but their maintenance, upgradation, modernization, renovation and construction is also done at state expense. A large amount of money is also spent by Election Commission of India on political parties for giving electoral rolls.

Doordarshan and AIR also provide free broadcast facilities to the political parties. If closely seen, the money spent on that basis actually runs in crores. State funding is also given for publicity of political parties during elections.

It is indeed very surprising that the political parties who at one end claim to work under transparent and people centric manner have flatly refused to work in such a fashion.

ADR, had filed a complaint on 23rd March, 2011 with the CIC to get information from political parties. The hearing now is scheduled for 26th September. The letter from CIC also has also mentioned that the matter is serious and of wider implications. The case is thus going to be placed before full bench.

Notice from CIC for hearing

RTI reply from INC

RTI reply from CPI(M)

Reply from CPI stating itself as public authority

Original RTI of ADR to political parties

 

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