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The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013



The Union Minister of State for Personnel and Training V Narayanasamy on 12 August 2013 introduced The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2013 in Lok Sabha. The Union Cabinet approved the amendments to the RTI Act 2005 on 2 August 2013.

The Bill was introduced to amend the Right to Information Act, 2005, to exclude the political parties from the definition of Public authority for the purpose of the Act.

Highlights of the RTI (Amendment) Bill 2013:
1.The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill, 2013 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.

2.Referring to the CIC order of June, the bill also makes it clear that anything contained in any judgement, decree or order of any court or commission will not affect the status of political parties recognised under the Representation of the People Act.

3.With a view to remove the adverse effects of the Central Information Commission decision, the bill states that it is necessary to give retrospective effect to the proposed amendment.

4.The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill, states that the government considers that the CIC has made a liberal interpretation of Section 2 (h) of the said (RTI) Act in its decision.

5.The Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Bill also points that there are already provisions in the RP Act as well as the Income Tax Act which deal with transparency in the financial aspects of political parties and their candidates.

Background:
The issue of amending the Right to Information Act 2005 came to limelight after a 3 June 2013 Central Information Commission (CIC) order. In its order CIC stated that six national political parties namely, INC, BJP, CPI(M), CPI, NCP, and BSP  would be brought under the RTI Act as they were public authorities, receiving significant funding from the government.

The order of the CIC had evoked sharp reactions from political parties, especially Congress which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law.


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