New Delhi, Sept. 5: The government today referred to a parliamentary panel a bill aimed at keeping political parties out of the ambit of the transparency law in a surprise retreat that betrayed fears of a public backlash if it pressed ahead with the legislation.
“The bill needs elaborate study,” minister of state
V. Narayansamy said in the Lok Sabha where the RTI (Amendment) Bill, 2013, had been listed for passage.
“If it goes to the standing committee, then more and more political parties can give their inputs,” Narayansamy said.
The decision came in the backdrop of signature campaigns by right to information activists who oppose the amendment, aimed at exempting parties from having to open their accounts to scrutiny.
Earlier this year, the
Central Information Commission had said that six parties — the Congress, BJP, NCP, CPM, CPI and the BSP — should be treated as public authorities as they were substantially funded indirectly by the government and should therefore come under the RTI Act.
Most parties had opposed the June 3 order except a few like the Trinamul Congress and the Biju Janata Dal.
Later, the CPI too had
supported the CIC order, though a CPM politburo statement said any move to bring parties under the RTI law’s ambit would “interfere with and hamper the functioning of a political party”.
When the bill was taken up in the lower House today, Trinamul MP Dinesh Trivedi was the only member who demanded that it be sent to the standing committee, while two CPM MPs, P.K. Biju and M.B. Rajesh, said it should be passed in the current session.
Main Opposition BJP sat quietly and did not object when the minister referred the legislation to the House committee.
Earlier, RTI pioneer Aruna Roy, a former member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council, had written to the Congress chief arguing the need for bringing parties under the ambit of the transparency law.