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CIC exceeded its brief’ under RTI Act: CPI-M

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CIC exceeded its brief’ under RTI Act: CPI-M
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New Delhi: Launching a fresh attack on the CIC over its order to treat political parties as “public authorities”, CPI-M on Friday said it had “exceeded its brief” under the RTI Act and sought changes in the law on the issue.

“CIC has exceeded its brief under the RTI Act by setting out a new definition of political parties. When Parliament adopted the Right to Information Act in 2005, which was supported by CPI-M too, the intention was not to bring political parties as ‘public authorities’ under its purview.

“Therefore, it is necessary for the government to discuss with all political parties and get the necessary clarification incorporated in the RTI Act itself by Parliament,” the CPI-M general secretary Prakash Karat said.

Terming the CIC decision “to extend the purview of the RTI Act” as “misconceived and wrong”, he said the order stemmed from “a lack of understanding and a basic misconception about the role of political parties in a parliamentary democracy.”

“Political parties are not governmental organisations or state-funded entities. There is no constitutional provision for a political party. A political party is an association of citizens who come together voluntarily to form a party” on the basis of an ideology, programme and leadership, Mr. Karat said in an article in the CPI-M organ ‘People’s Democracy’.

He also pointed out that the new CIC order would enable anyone to ask for internal deliberations of a party which “will harm the very mode of inner-party functioning. Within a party, discussions are held on the basis of confidentiality that certain decisions are taken.”

“To demand that such deliberations be made available will be a serious infringement on the nature of inner-party discussions and the way decisions are taken by a political party,” Mr. Karat said, adding that the new law could be used as “an instrument” by one party against another as the former could demand information on internal matters of the latter.

On RTI demands regarding selection of candidates which could be made under the new CIC ruling, he said, “How a party selects its candidates is its own business. How is it a concern of others? In a democracy, the people are free to judge and decide which candidate to vote for or not.

“In a democratic system, a political party has the right to decide whom to put up as a candidate… according to whatever criteria they wish to adopt which are within the legal framework.”

He said under the existing laws, a person convicted of a serious crime cannot be put up as a candidate as he or she will be disqualified.

“If there is any need for a change in the law, it can be discussed. But the intrinsic right of a political party to put up candidates on the basis of its own criteria cannot be questioned or subjected to any public scrutiny.”

In a similar vein, the CPI also disagreed with the latest CIC ruling, saying “political parties are independent, autonomous voluntary organisations.

The CPI wanted CIC to reconsider its decision and said it would discuss with like-minded parties and decide the future course of action on the issue.

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