The Election Commission on Monday clarified that national political parties are public authorities under the Right To Information Act as declared by the Central Information Commission, PTI reported. This came a day after the poll panel had said that political parties are out of the RTI Act’s ambit.
In a statement, the poll authority clarified that it adheres with the Central Information Commission’s order of June 3, 2013, declaring national parties public authorities for the purposes of RTI Act. As such, information about the contributions received by these parties and their annual audited accounts are put in the public domain, according to the Central Information Commission’s order.
An RTI query had sought details on the donations received by the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Congress, the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Nationalist Congress Party, the Communist Party of India and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) through electoral bonds. The applicant, Vihar Dhurve, also wanted to know the donations collected by the Samajwadi Party, which is not a national party.
When the central public information officer refused to reveal the information, the applicant filed an appeal with KF Wilfred, the First Appellate Authority of the election panel.
“Requisite information is not available in the commission,” the order of the appellate authority said. “This is related to political parties and they are out of purview of the RTI. They may submit information of donation or amount collected through electoral bonds in their contribution report for the financial year 2017-’18 in the ECI, for which the due date is September 30, 2018.”
The Central Information Commission is the only institution that can declare a body a public authority accountable under the Right to Information Act.