This Article is From Sep 05, 2013

RTI Amendment Bill deferred

RTI Amendment Bill deferred
New Delhi: A bill seeking to amend the Right To Information (RTI) Act to shield political parties from providing information under the transparency law has been referred to Parliament's select committee for further consideration.

"The government has decided that there should be more discussion on this Bill. We will bring this Bill in Parliament in the Winter Session," said V Narayanasamy, Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions.

The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2013 was introduced on August 12 in the Lok Sabha by Mr Narayanasamy but could not be discussed amid repeated adjournments in Parliament.

The Union Cabinet had last month cleared a proposal to amend the RTI Act to give immunity to political parties and negate a Central Information Commission (CIC) order to this effect.

Many RTI activists have opposed the proposed amendments. Aruna Roy, a former member of the Sonia Gandhi-led National Advisory Council and met the PM in this regard. Sources say Ms Gandhi changed her mind after Ms Roy's comments and said there should be more consideration. There were also, reportedly,  multiple views within the Congress party.

Some politicians like BJD's Jay Panda have questioned why political parties should be kept out of RTI Act's ambit.

The CIC had, in its order on June 3, held that the six national parties- the  Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party, the NCP, CPI-M, CPI and Mayawati's Bahujan Samaj Party - have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint public information officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.

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

The government has proposed an amendment in Section 2 of the act, which defines public authority, to shield the political parties.