Bhopal/New Delhi, Aug. 2 (ANI): Former Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) President Nitin Gadkari on Friday supported the Union Cabinet's decision to amend the Right to Information (RTI) Act in the matter of granting immunity to political parties.
"Political parties don't function on the government's money. The prospect of bringing political parties under RTI was, therefore, not viable. The bill that will be brought into parliament is fine. The places in which the government grants go, where money goes from the budget, the RTI is fine there," Gadkari said here.
Commenting on the possibility of there being a lack of financial transparency on the part of political parties in the wake of the proposed amendment to the RTI Act, Gadkari said that if there are allegations against political parties for misusing government funds, an enquiry could be carried out without bringing them under the RTI Act.
"If some party has taken the government's money, or misused budgetary funds, then an investigation can be carried out against them," Gadkari said.
On Thursday, after a meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, the Cabinet gave its consent to amend the transparency law to keep political parties out of its ambit and reasoned that they are not public authorities.
The Cabinet's decision comes almost two months after the Central Information Commission (CIC) ordered six political parties-BJP, Congress, Nationalist Congress Party, Communist Party of India, Communist Party of India (Marxist) and Bahujan Samaj party- be brought under the RTI Act.
On June 3, the CIC's order held that since the Central Government has substantially funded these six national parties indirectly, they should be required to appoint Public Information Officers (PIOs) as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.
According to the amendments, bringing the political parties under the RTI would "hamper their smooth internal functioning, since it will encourage political rivals to file RTI applications with malicious intentions".
The Cabinet has reportedly said that the Representation of People's Act and the Income Tax Act are adequate to ensure transparency in financial aspects of political parties.
During Thursday's Cabinet meeting, Petroleum and Natural Gas Minister M.Veerapa Moily was reportedly of the opinion that people should know that amending the RTI Act was not a unilateral decision by the Government, but was instead based on consensus reached among all political parties.
According to reports, the government will look to change the definition of public authorities, as mentioned under Section 2 of the RTI Act so as to keep all recognised political parties out of the jurisdiction of the RTI.
The government will have to introduce a bill in this regard during the monsoon session of Parliament, which will begin on Monday (August 5). (ANI)