Bring parties under RTI: Hegde

Slamming the government move to keep parties outside the RTI, former Supreme Court judge Justice N. Santosh Hegde (Retd) on Sunday argued they are public bodies answerable to the people, who want to know from where they get funds from.
Speaking here, Mr Hegde, who was a key member of Team Anna movement, said one has to look at the activities of political parties holistically and it’s clear that whether they are in power or not, they are dealing with public issues.
The former Karnataka lokayukta, who uncovered a huge illegal mining scam in the state, was reacting to the Union Cabinet’s August 1 decision to provide immunity to political parties from RTI by giving its nod to amend the transparency law to keep them out of its ambit by declaring that they are not public authorities.
Mr Hegde said political parties are certainly involved in administration one way or other. “Fact remains that they are part of body which controls administration one way or other”.
Noting that political parties are powerful organisations, he pointed to instances of their interference, giving the recent suspension of an IAS officer in Uttar Pradesh as an example.
When challenged on such issues, governments claim they have the power do take such decisions. “Who’s the government? It’s the political party in power”, he said, adding Opposition parties also control activities of their ruling counterparts.
“I am of the considered opinion that political parties are public bodies; they have a large say in the administration and so, they must be answerable to the people. Transparency is a must in their case also. Transparency is foundation of democracy,” Mr Hegde stressed.

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