Election Commission says political parties not under RTI ambit, contradicts top authority’s order . Former Chief Information Commissioner AN Tiwari said ” The election panel’s order has no merit “

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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 First Appellate Authority in the Election Commission K.F. Wilfred, the Senior Principal Secretary in the poll panel, wrote in the order that he agrees with the view taken by the CPIO.

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 RTI query had sought to know the donations collected 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 also wanted to know the donations collected by the Samajwadi Party, which is not a national party.

The Central Information Commission is the only institution that can declare a body as a public authority accountable 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,” former Chief Information Commissioner AN Tiwari told PTI. “The order of EC has no merit.”

Venkatesh Nayak, a noted RTI activist, said the public information officer of the Election Commission has exceeded his limits in giving this order. “The June 2013 order of the CIC bringing six national political parties under the RTI Act remains in force even if the political parties do not obey it. It has not been stayed or set aside by any court. Therefore, as far as national political parties are concerned they are squarely covered under the RTI Act,” Mr. Nayak said.