Supreme Court of India

New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India today issued notices to the Central Government, Election Commission of India and the six National Political Parties – BJP, Congress, BSP, CPI, CPI(M) and NCP, while admitting a petition filed by the Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) to declare all the six national political parties as “public authorities”.

A Bench comprising Chief Justice H L Dattu, Justice Arun Kumar Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy sought response from all national political parties on why they should not be brought within RTI ambit to make them more accountable to public, and ordered all the eight respondents to submit their responses within six weeks.

The petition was necessitated by the refusal of the National Parties to comply with the CIC full Bench order of 3rd June 2013 declaring the National Political Parties to be “Public Authority “under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. On 16th March 2015, the CIC expressed helplessness in the matter and stated that the RTI Act does not provide the Commission with the ample power to deal with cases of contempt and non-compliances.

Appearing for ADR, Counsel Prashant Bhushan told the court that under the present law, political parties exercise significant power under the anti-defection provisions given in the constitution when they can unseat representatives elected by the people if they vote against the wishes of the party.

Prof. Jagdeep Chhokar, founder member of ADR said that, “I hope the Supreme Court will undo the damage done by the CIC in expressing its inability to get its decision implemented.”

The petitioners argued that the political parties play an important role in the formation of government, policy decisions and enactment of laws therefore they should be more transparent in their working and accountable towards citizen at large.