- Political parties are out of the purview of the RTI Act, the Election Commission has said in an order which is contrary to the Central Information Commission’s directive bringing six national parties under the transparency law.
- The poll panel statement, which may prove to be controversial, came while deciding the appeal of an RTI applicant seeking to know donations collected by six national parties who were brought under the ambit of the transparency law by the CIC in June 2013.
- Six national parties — the BJP, the Congress, the BSP, the NCP, the CPI and the CPI(M) — for which information was sought by the applicant were brought under the ambit of the RTI Act by a full bench of the commission on June 3, 2013. (The Trinamool Congress was recognised as the seventh national party in September 2016).
- The order has not been challenged in the higher courts but the political parties have refused to entertain the RTI applications directed at them. Several activists have approached the Supreme Court on the grounds of non-compliance of the CIC order and the matter is pending.
- When it comes to the RTI Act, the Central Information Commission is the only appellate authority which may declare a body as public authority if it is convinced that the organisation fits into the criteria for being under the Right to Information Act.
- When the Central Information Commission has declared six national political parties as public authority, the Election Commission cannot take a position contrary to that unless the order of the CIC has been overturned by the Supreme Court or High Courts.