Bringing Political Parties under The RTI Act

By Swayam Siddha Nanda, KIIT School of Law

Editor’s Note : The composition of the population in India makes democracy one of the most ideal form of governance for it. However, as pointed out by many adversaries, it has certain shortcomings. It is an open secret that political parties collect huge donations from different sources who in turn receive substantial gains from them. When the activities of political parties were brought under the purview of The Right to Information Act, 2005 all them including the makers of the Act itself joined hands to undo this historic pronouncement. However, to be truly citizen-friendly the parties must accept this provision and take it in their stride.

In spite of its shortcomings pointed out by the adversaries,democracy continues to be one of the most ideal form of governance and especially so for a vast country like India for maintaining unity in diversity. Democracy being a Government of the people, for the people and by the people,necessitates peoples participation in the process of governance through the provision of the constitution and relevant legislation for the purpose.This again implies that people have a right to know the tit bits of governance and state actions and that of their representatives who represent them in the legislatures.In response to this,the Government of India enacted the Right To Information Act in 2005 to empower people for more effective participation in the social reconstruction process through good governance.

India has borrowed the idea of parliamentary and representative democracy from the British Constitutional System. Different political ideologies and approaches for the all round growth of the country are represented through political parties.It is not out of the place to mention that India has adopted the multi-party system and these parties contest election on the basis of universal adult franchise to get themselves elected to the legislative bodies.i

Contesting an election involves expenditure on the part of the political parties and individuals contesting as independent candidates. Realizing this reality and necessity of such expenditure,the Election Commission has put limitation to such expenditure from time to time.But in actual practice,it is found that political parties spend crores of rupees in the electoral contest in gross violation of the limits fixed by the election commission and other component bodies.Now the question is what are the sources from which such huge amount is collected by the political parties?

It is open secret that political parties collect huge donations from different sources including business houses and concerns which act as the major funding agencies to all political parties. In return the donors receive substantial gains as in concession in income tax and enjoy many other opportunities connected with such donation.The result of that,there is a huge loss of public money which could have been brought to the public exchequer in the shape of income tax.To be specific,the public has a right to know the quantum of such loss that could have been utilized for the benefit of the people.

As the provisions of the R.T.I.Act,2005,the revelation of the above mentioned facts doesn’t come under the limitations of the Act.The Act categorically says that all information except the ones affecting the sovereignty,unity and integrity including territorial safety shall be supplied to the public through the procedure prescribed by the Act.This Act clearly repeals the former Official Secrecy Act,1923 enacted by The Colonial Masters.

It was a day of rejoicing for all the conscious Indians and lovers of democratic values around the world when Mr. Satyananda Mishra,the present Chief Information Commission of India brought all the political parties and their activities within the purview of the R.T.I.Act,2005 enacted by the UPA1 Government which is regarded as one of its most spectacular achievements and a major contribution to strengthen democracy.

But lo and behold ! All the political parties including the makers of the Act itself joined hands to undo the historic pronouncement of the Chief Information Commissioner. To say the least,it is a shame to the power that be and a shock to democratic values.It is an indirect way of admitting on the part of political parties that the actual amount collected by them should be kept a secret so as to save them from public hatred.The unholy alliance between political parties and business houses is antithetical to the basic norms and values of a democratic system.

In such a sorry state of affairs, ultimately the common man suffers due to loss of government revenue.That apart in the era of globalization,the relationship between the state and the market has become very complex.iiVery often in a situation of state versus market,the latter dominates as a result of which the plight of the common man is beyond description and in the ultimate analysis,the progress of the state suffers a setback.That explains why people have regarding the secret financial transaction of the political parties that represent the in the long run.

To conclude,it will be a memorable day for Indian democracy when all political parties gladly accept the decision of the Chief Information Commissioner with an open mindedness to make themselves citizen-friendly,because finally in a democratic set up “vox populi vox dei” – voice of the people is the voice of God.iii

Edited by Kanchi Kaushik



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