- Political parties are institutions of public importance as they consist of leaders who are elected by the people. This requires complete transparency and accountability of political parties.
- Money power is becoming a significant roadblock in achieving true potential of our democracy. Hence, funding of political parties must be made public under RTI.
- It will raise the confidence of people for the political leadership and help in their image makeover as well.
- The Union government recently told the Supreme Court that political parties must not be brought under RTI or Right to Information Act as they are not public authorities.
- Opaque nature of funding given to political parties.
- It could lead to exposure of strategic and tactical information held by political parties for elections and other political work.
- Political parties are not public authorities as they are not set up under the Constitution or any law enacted by Parliament – they can’t be treated as an institution or establishment.
- If political parties come under the RTI it will affect their smooth internal functioning.
- Political rivals will start using RTI tool with malicious intent.
- There are already provisions in the Income Tax Act, 1961, and Representation of the People Act, 1951, which demand necessary transparency regarding financial aspects of political parties. These mechanisms ensure transparency in financial dealings of parties.
- Information about a political body is already in the public domain on the website of the Election Commission.
- It will curb the complete independence and autonomy of political parties as they will come under public scanner through RTI.
255th Law Commission report has also tried to highlight the problems that a democracy has to face because of unregulated funding in elections.
- A petition by the NGO had said that political parties should be declared “public authorities” to bring them under the RTI Act.
- The petition had also urged the court to ask political parties to declare all donations, including those below Rs. 20,000.
- The Supreme Court had issued notice to six national parties, including the BJP and the Congress, asking them why they can’t come clean and explain their hesitation to disclose complete details of their income, expenditure, donations, funding, including donor details, to the public under the RTI Act.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) had in June 2013 deemed national parties to be ‘public authorities’ under the RTI Act, to whom the provisions of the Act would now apply.