Wednesday, March 08, 2017

Julka recuses from CIC bench hearing plea against Pol parties

Business Standard: New Delhi: Wednesday, March 08, 2017.
Information Commissioner Bimal Julka has recused from the Central Information Commission (CIC) full bench hearing a complaint against political parties for defying the RTI Act.
The recusal will bring the hearing to a stop till Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur appoints his substitute.
Besides Julka, the three-member bench includes Information Commissioners Sridhar Acharyulu and Sudhir Bhargava.
"I have a lot of pending work. The workload is heavy, so I have recused from the bench," Julka told PTI over phone.
The bench is hearing a complaint by activist R K Jain alleging that his queries to political parties seeking details of donations, finances, internal elections, etc. Were not responded to, which is a violation of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
In his complaint, Jain has alleged that this was a violation of an earlier full bench order of the Commission which had declared the Congress and five other national parties including the BJP, CPI, CPI-M, NCP and the BSP as public authorities making them answerable under the RTI Act.
While the Congress, NCP, CPI-M and the BSP are arguing their cases, the BJP has so far not appeared despite repeated notices.
A full bench of the Commission headed by the then Chief Information Commissioner, Satyananda Mishra, had on June 3, 2013 brought six national parties -- the Congress, BJP, NCP, BSP, CPI and the CPI-M under the ambit of the RTI Act as they are substantially funded by the government in the form of subsidies, cheap land for offices and tax concessions.
The order has neither been stayed nor set aside by any of the high courts or the Supreme Court, Jain said.