CIC recommends bringing Political Parties under RTI Act, seeks views

Central  Information Commission (CIC): The appellant in this case is a common man from Madhubani District of Bihar who had sought information about his representative- Shri Hukumdev Narayan Yadav in Parliament regarding the progress of works and allocation of funds initiated under his Members of Parliament Local Area Development Division (MPLAD) in his block in 2015 and had not got any response for the same either from CPIO or First Appellate Authority (FAA). Aggrieved from the conduct of lower authorities, he approached the commission praying for stern penal action against the CPIO and FAA for their non-responsive attitude.

The Commission in its judgment has addressed the appellant as ‘voter’ saying that such use of RTI is worth appreciation and also said that a voter has every right to know about the work being done by his representative for the public and it is nothing, but the true essence of democracy. It further highlighted that from the tax payer’s money, each parliamentarian is getting Rs 5 Crore per annum, besides all his primary and VVIP standard facilities were taken care of and must therefore, realize his duty.

Commission observed that the appellant’s request for information sought was absolutely genuine and it does not fall under the exceptions prescribed under RTI Act. It in fact, apprised the respondent of its duty to have information and also supervise the implementation of the programs and thereafter held that the CPIO of Ministry of Statistics & Programme Implementation, and CPIO of Lok Sabha Secretariat to provide a report on activities on MPLADS in Khatauna block of Madhubani constituency along with details sought by the appellant, besides placing it in their official website, before 7th September 2017. It also directed CPIO of concerned MP to furnish the details of the works recommended by him, the criterion of selection or rejection and progress of the work etc before the same date.

Further, as appealed, it also directed FAA to explain why disciplinary action should not be recommended against him for not taking up the first appeal at all, which amounts to abdication of responsibility under RTI Act. It went on to opine that every legislature/parliamentary party shall be considered as public authority and called for views and went on to remind the MPs and MLAs the oath they have taken while assuming the office as members of legislature by quoting the ‘oath’.

Professor M. Sridhar Acharyulu (Madabhushi Sridhar), the Chief Information Commissioner also asked for views from BJP and other political parties along with civil societies and NGOs to express their opinion/contentions or views on the issue of bringing legislature parties/parliamentary parties under the purview of Right to Information Act, 2005 to provide people access to information, by email to madabhushisridhar@gov.in before 8th September, 2017. [Vishnu Dev Bhandari v. PIO, M/o Statistics & Programme, CIC/MOSPI/A/2017/176195, decided on 18.08.2017]

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