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Parliament panel backs bill to negate CIC order on parties

A parliamentary panel on Tuesday supported passage of a bill which seeks to keep political parties out of the ambit of the RTI Act and negate a Central Information Commission (CIC) order to that effect under the transparency law.

‘The committee considers the proposed amendment is a right step to address the issue once and for all. The committee, therefore, recommends for passing of the bill," the Standing Committee on Law and Personnel said in its report tabled in Parliament.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013, introduced in Lok Sabha in August this year, seeks to insert an explanation in Section 2 of the Act which states that any association or body of individuals registered or recognised as political party under the Representation of the People Act, 1951, will not be considered a public authority.

The CIC order had termed Congress, BJP, BSP, NCP, CPI and CPI-M as political authorities.
Attorney general G E Vahanvati and law secretary B A Agarwal were among the top officials who deposed before the committee.

The AG was ‘apprehensive’ that the proposed amendment would not sustain the test of judicial scrutiny as it was ‘creating a class within a class without having any consideration to the principle of intelligable differntia having reasonable nexus with objective of the Act.’

The law secretary, on the other hand, was of the view that it was ‘quite sustainable’ since Parliament has legislative competence to override the CIC order.

The panel rejected the views of the AG and said it ‘subscribes’ to the opinion expressed by the law secretary.
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