Why Amit Shah and Sonia Gandhi get show cause notice: Explained

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The Central Information Commission, a quasi-judicial body, has issued a show cause notices to the heads of six national political parties including BJP president Amit Shah and Congress chief Sonia Gandhi.

What is the issue?

  • The CIC has issued notice in connection with the non-compliance of its June, 2013 order to implement the RTI Act.
  • The CIC had declared the 6 national parties as public authority as they perform public functions.
  • The six national parties are BJP, Congress, NCP, CPI, CPI-M and BSP.
  • In 3 June, 2013 order, CIC held that the parties are under ambit of RTI Act and are duty bound to answer queries from public.
  • The six parties neither complied with the Commission's order nor challenged it in courts.
  • The Commission has so far issued notices to the parties on February 7 and March 25 seeking their comments over not going by its order.
  • On getting no response, the Commission has now issued a show cause notices to the party chiefs asking why an inquiry should not be initiated against them for non-compliance of its order.

What is RTI?

  • The Right to information Act came into force in 2005.
  • Under its provision, any citizen may request information from public authority which is required to reply expeditiously or within 30 days.
  • The Act requires every public authority to computerise their record for wide dissemination.
  • Refusal to provide information or not giving complete information is claimed as offence under RTI Act.
  • It attracts a penalty for public information officer of a public authority of Rs 250 per day from the date the information was due.

What is CIC's stand?

  • The CIC held that since all these parties are substantially financed by Central Government, they are public authority.
  • Section 2 (vi)(ii) of the RTI Act states that ‘public authority includes any non-Government organisation substantially financed, directly or indirectly, funds provided by an appropriate Government.

Why political parties oppose being under RTI?

  • The parties have so far refused to consider themselves public authorities.
  • They say that they follow transparency norms by submitting information about their funds to poll panel and income tax authorities.
  • Their stand is that it will be difficult for them to work if they are brought under RTI, as people would seek confidential information under RTI.
  • The Congress tabled a RTI amendment Bill 2013 in Lok Sabha to keep political parties out of RTI ambit.
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