The Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) has demanded that the six major political parties in the country be fined for not turning up for the second hearing held by the chief information commissioner on January 7.

This is the second time that none of the parties have sent their representatives for the hearing wherein their non-compliance of Right to Information (RTI) Act rules were to be questioned. An order of the CIC based on the petitions of ADR had deemed the INC, BJP, CPI (M), CPI, NCP and BSP public bodies due to the substantial funding they received from the Central government.

Under the clauses of the RTI Act, the parties came under the purview of the Act and were bound to appoint Public Information Officers (PIO) to respond to RTI queries from the general public. This order had been issued on June 3, 2013 by a full bench of the CIC after hearing the petitioners who had complained that five of the six parties had refused to part with information under RTI. ADR alleged that the BJP did not respond at all.

However, none of the parties complied and hence the CIC issued them a show cause notice demanding to know why they had failed to appoint PIO’s as per the CIC order of 2013. As none of the parties responded to the show cause notice, a hearing was held on January 7, 2015 wherein the parties did not appear again.

This prompted Professor Jagdeep Chhokar, founder and trustee, ADR, to opine that the defiance in unison by all the national political parties, that are institutions of democracy, sends an ironic message to the public about transparency and rule of law.

During the hearing Prof Chhokar said, “Such flouting of the order passed by a statutory authority and a legislation passed by the Parliament shows nothing short of disdain for democracy and Parliament itself. Such arrogant non-compliance of law shown by the national political parties deepens cynicism among citizens and is potentially catastrophic for the state of democracy.”

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