Parliamentary panel seeks public’s views on RTI Amendment Bill

Mon 23 Sep 2013

A Parliamentary Committee has sought people’s suggestions on the Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, aimed at keeping political parties out of the purview of the transparency law.

The Bill intends to amend the RTI Act and remove the adverse effects of the decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC) dated June 3, 2013. The CIC held six political parties–Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI (M), CPI and BSP –as public authorities under the transparency law, announced an advertisement by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice.

The committee headed by Shantaram Naik has invited views and suggestions from individuals or organisations interested in the Bill. The committee will also hear select oral views from stakeholders concerned.

People can send their suggestions within the next two weeks, said the advertisement that appeared in newspapers on Saturday.

The Union Government introduced amendments to the RTI Act on August 12 in Lok Sabha under pressure from the political class, which unanimously opposed the proposed accountability of political parties to the public through the Act.

On September 12, however, the Government decided to refer the amendment Bill to a parliamentary panel following intense opposition from both within and outside Parliament. Civil society members such as RTI activist Aruna Roy, groups including the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, and MP’s such as Jay Panda from Biju Janata Dal, Dinesh Trivedi from Trinamool Congress and Ajay Kumar from Jharkhand Vikas Morcha strongly opposed the amendments.

There were also several online petitions to Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh against the proposed amendments.

The Union Cabinet approved the amendment bill, aimed to exclude political parties from the definition of public authority, after the CIC argued that the aforementioned political parties were substantially funded by the Central Government.


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