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Political parties shouldn't be compelled to disclose internal decisions under RTI: CPI (M) to SC
New Delhi: Communist Party of India (Marxist) on Tuesday told the Supreme Court that it supported the cause of financial transparency of political parties in the area of financial matters, but was against parties being compelled to disclose internal decisions, including why they chose a particular candidate.
CPI (M), represented by lawyer PV Dinesh, said the party has no objection to Right to Information (RTI) Act with regard to ensuring financial transparency but "there cannot be requests (under RTI) on why a candidate has been selected and for what reasons.. and details on the internal decision making process of a party." To this, a bench headed by Chief Justice of India DY Chandrachud orally observed that political parties may “have a point” when they fear that accountability under RTI may stretch to even disclosure of internal decisions, including why they chose a particular candidate.
"They have a point. They say, don’t ask us to disclose how we chose our candidates… I don’t think you can do that,” the bench also comprising Justices JB Pardiwala and Manoj Misra told counsels appearing for petitioners.
The apex court was hearing a batch of petitions seeking a declaration that national and regional political parties were “public authorities” under the RTI Act. Several parties, including the Congress and the BJP, are made parties in this case.
During the brief hearing, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for Central government, told the bench that an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) cannot be used to seek a writ from the top court to bring recognised political parties under the ambit of the RTI Act.
Advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for a petitioner NGO Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) contended that the CIC had in 2013 passed an order that political parties, which receive benefits like tax exemptions and land from the government, be brought under the RTI for ensuring transparency in the political system.
The apex court adjourned the hearing for August 1 of two PILs filed by NGO ADR and lawyer Ashwini Updhyay as Attorney General R Venkataramani, who represents Centre in the case, was travelling and was not available.
The pleas sought directions to declare all national and state recognised political parties as a 'public authority' and hence come under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI) Act.