New Delhi

NEW DELHI: Cocking a snook at the Central Information Commission (CIC), none of the six national political parties were present to respond to summonses of non-compliance. The CIC had issued a third notice in September this year seeking to know why political parties had not complied by its June 3 order that recognized them as public authorities under the RTI Act. 

A full bench of the commission comprising information commissioners Vijai Sharma, Manjula Parashar and Sharat Sabharwal heard the views of complainants Association of Democratic Reforms (ADR), activist Subhash Agrawal and intervener RK Jain who demanded issuing show-cause notice to the political parties. 

After the detailed hearing, where Agrawal and ADR demanded imposition of penalty on the political parties and compensation, the commission reserved the order. 

Jain also said that CIC should use its power of civil court to summon these parties and seek explanation for non-implementation of its directives. 

Agrawal demanded maximum penalty under provision of RTI act and providing exemplary compensation under provision of RTI act. He also urged CIC to recommend to the central government, election commission, central board of direct taxes (CBDT) and others concerned, abolition of direct and indirect financing by Union and state governments to the political parties. 

"No further government-accommodations may be allotted to any political party. Existing ones may be vacated say within three years...Political parties may be made to submit their complete fiscal details including incoming and outgoing funds to election commission for making these public through website," he said. 

The ADR said this is a clear case of open defiance of a statutory authority by the six political parties and is not conducive to the functioning of a democratic society. Describing the non-compliance as "open defiance" by political parties ADR's Jagdeep Chhokar said that the compensation should be exemplary and meaningful. ADR has demanded a compensation of Rs 44.10 crore from all 6 political parties calculated at 5% of the party's annual income. 

The CIC on June 3 last year had declared Congress, BJP, CPI, CPI(M), NCP and BSP as public authorities answerable under RTI act and given them six weeks to comply with the mandatory requirements under the law for the processing of information seeking applications. But none of the parties followed the directives.

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