SC asks EC to look into plea to bring parties under RTI law

RSTV Bureau

The Supreme Court asked the Election Commission (EC) to examine a representation for bringing political parties under the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act to make them accountable and to curb the use of black money in elections.

Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, flanked by, Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and O P Rawat  (L) announces the schedule for Elections

Chief Election Commissioner A K Joti, flanked by, Election Commissioners Sunil Arora and O P Rawat (L) announces the schedule for Elections

A bench comprising Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud asked the petitioner, Delhi BJP spokesperson and lawyer Ashwini Upadhyay, to first make the representation before the EC regarding the issue.

The petitioner has sought direction to the Centre to take steps to deal with the menace of corruption and communalisation.

“Declare the political parties, registered under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act, 1951, a ‘Public Authority’ under Section 2(h) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, to make them transparent and accountable to the people and curb use of black money in elections,” it has said.

The PIL has sought a direction to the EC to ensure compliance of the RTI Act and other laws related to political parties and deregister them if they fail to abide by them.

“Direct the EC to ensure compliance of the Representation of the People Act, Right to Information Act, Income Tax Act and other election laws and rules so for as they relate to political parties and de-register them if they fail to comply with the election laws and rules,” it has said.

File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

File Photo of Supreme Court of India building in New Delhi.

Highlighting the instances of corruption and indirect funding to political parties, the petition has said the central and state governments have allotted land/buildings and other accommodation in prime locations to the parties all over the country either free of cost or on concessional rates.

“This amounts to indirect financing of the political parties. Doordarshan allots free airtime to political parties during the elections. This is another instance of indirect financing,” it has alleged.

The plea has also said that “a body or entity does not become a political party in the legal sense until the EC under Section 29A of the Representation of the People Act registers it. Therefore, this registration lends it the colour of Public Authority.”