New Delhi

The Central Government on Monday filed an affidavit in Supreme Court seeking to keep political parties away from the Right to Information (RTI) ambit. 

The apex court in July sought a response from the Centre and six leading political parties on whether national political parties should be declared as "public authorities" so that they come under the ambit of RTI Act. The court issued notices to the government, election commission of India (ECI) and the BJP, Congress, BSP, CPI, CPI(M) and NCP, and sought replies within six weeks.

The petition was filed by an NGO--Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) and RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal seeking an order to declare all the national political parties as public authorities.

Speaking to ANI, advocate Prashant Bhushan, appearing for the petitioner, said, "Not surprising that the Central government wants to finish RTI act completely. Just as they are destroying all institutions of accountability whether its Lokpal, CVC or CBI, they want to destroy RTI act also."

Bhushan also contended that national parties are virtually funded by the state as they are exempted from filing income tax returns. Bhushan said they would have to deposit 35% of donation received by them had they not been exempted. He said that it shows that they are being funded by the government, making them liable to come under the RTI Act

The petition was filed after their refusal to comply with the Central Information Commission (CIC) order of June 3, 2013, declaring the national political parties to be public authority under Section 2(h) of the Right To Information (RTI) Act.

According to the NGO's plea, political parties receive huge sums of money in form of donations and contributions from corporates, trusts and individuals but do not disclose complete information about the source of such donations and they should mandatorily disclose details of their income as well as expenditure.

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