CIC says All Political parties in India come under RTI Act


Complainant Subhash Chandra Agrawal (Shri S.C.Agrawal) has filed Complaint No. Central Information Commission/SM/C/2011/001386 and Complainant Shri Anil Bairwal, Complaint No. CIC/SM/C/2011/000838.       In  both  the  complaints,  the  common  issue  relating  to  the disclosure of  the accounts and funding of Political Parties has been raised.  Hence, it has been decided to dispose of these matters through a common order.

All Political parties in India come under RTI Act

File No. CIC/SM/C/001386:

By his RTI application dated 16.5.2011, complainant S.C. Aggarwal has sought the following information from the Presidents/Secretaries of the Indian National Congress (INC/AICC)  and the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP):

“1. Copies of Election Menifestoes by BJP for Lok Sabha elections in the years it formed NDA govenment with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee as Prime Minister.

2.   Were all the promises made in these election manifestoes fulfilled after BJP

3.   If not, list of promises highlighted in BJP election manifestoes but remained unfulfilled after BJP came to power.

4.   Outline of receipts (separately by cash/online/cheque etc) by BJP in last two years separately for each year for which updated account information may be there.

5.   Outline of payments (separately by cash/online/cheque etc.) made by BJP in last three years separately for each year for which updated account information may be there.

6.   Is it compulsory for every BJP legislature either at Centre or in States or in civic bodies etc to contribute towards party funds?

7.   If  yes,  please  provide  complete   and  detailed  information   including  also defaulters in making such contributions to party fund in last three years.

8.   Is BJP aware of any of its legislatures (both at Centre and in States)/civic body member etc. involved in corrupt and other malpractices in last three years?

9.   If yes, please provide complete details including action taken by party and others against such persons.

10. Has B.J.P. suggested any proposals to Union government /Election Commission towards electoral reforms?

11. If yes, please provide complete details including reply received from concerned ones if any.

12. Any other related information;

13. File notings on movement of this RTI petition and on all aspects mentioned in this RTI petition.”

Shri    Moti  Lal  Vora,  Treasurer,  AICC,  in  his  letter  dated  20th   May,  2011,  had informed the complainant that AICC did not come under the purview of the RTI Act.

Shri Shanti Prasad Aggarwal, Rashtriya Prabhari of BJP, in his letter dated 28th  May, 2011,  had informed the complainant that BJP was not a public authority and, therefore, the  Party was not obliged to provide the requisite information.

File No. CIC/SM/C/2011/000838

5.         Complainant Anil Bairwal, in his RTI application dated 29.10.2010 had sought the following information from the under mentioned Political Parties:

INC/AICC BJP

NCP CPI(M) CPI BSP

“1. a)        Sources of the 10 maximum voluntary contributions received by your party from Financial Year 2004-05 to Financial Year 2009-10?

b)   The modes of these donations (Cheque, cash, DD etc.)?

c)   The amounts of these donations?

d)   The Financial Years in which these contributions were made?

2.         Sources/Names of all Voluntary Contributors along with their addresses who have made single contributions of more than Rs. 1 lakh to your party from Financial Year 2004-05 to Financial Year 2009-10? You may provide this information in the following format:

 

S.No 

.

Source/Name of Contributor Address of Contributor
1
2
3
4

6.         By his letter dated 15th  November, 2010, Shri Moti Lal Vora, Treasurer, AICC, had informed the complainant that AICC did not come under the purview of the RTI Act.

7.         Shri    Chandan  Bose,  PRO,  Nationalist  Congress  Party,  in  his  letter  dated  27th November, 2010, had informed the complainant as under:

“It  is  very  important   to  mention  here  that  NCP  is  a  non-government organization.  Hence, we do not have much more resources nor surplus staff to expedite unusual work, which is not in our routine job.

We generate funds from the membership drive and through other resources also, i.e. voluntary contributions from the well-wishers, and followers etc. State units of NCP have major role in membership drive from which we are getting funds in lakhs.  State units of NCP at district level, block level and panchayat level organize membership camps frequently and every two years, we file the details regarding our membership and all necessary requisites in Election Commission and other government authorities.

However,  I  would  like  to  inform  you  that  ours  is  a  National  Party  duly recognized by Election Commission of India and that from the day of inception of our party, we have been regularly filing our returns to the Income Tax authorities and also to the Election Commission  of India along with whatever voluntary contributions received.   It is pertinent to mention here that our all obligation towards authorities are up to date.

If you feel like, you may collect all the information you desired, from the above said authorities.

In case you want any clarification, please feel free to contact us.”

8.         Shri K.C. Bansal of CPI, in his letter dated 6th  November, 2010, had informed the complainant of the sources of ten maximum voluntary contributions received by the Party for the financial years 2004-05 to 2009-10.

9.         Importantly, other Political Parties chose not to respond to the RTI application.

10.       Shri Subhash Chandra Agrawal had filed a complaint dated 6th   September, 2011, before this Commission in which he had mentioned that All India Congress   Committee and Bhartiya Janata Party, being national parties, had got premium land in Delhi/New Delhi at zonal variant institutional rate which was much less than the prevailing market rate and, therefore, it was not correct on their part to plead that they did not fall under the purview of the RTI Act.   It was his contention that both AICC/INC and BJP fell under the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act.

11.       Likewise, Shri Anil Bairwal had filed a complaint dated the 14th March, 2011, before the Commission against the responses received from INC/AICC, NCP & CPI, contending therein that the Political Parties, being beneficiaries of the Government, fell under the ambit of Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and, therefore, they were mandated to disclose full and complete information to him.

12.     As the matters in hand raised complex issues of law, the Chief Information Commissioner in his Order dated 31st  July, 2012 had constituted a Full Bench comprising of the following:-

Shri Satyananda Mishra, Chief Information Commissioner; Smt. Annapurna Dixit, Information Commissioner; and Shri M.L. Sharma, Information Commissioner

13.       The Full Bench held the first hearing on 26tSeptember, 2012.  The following were present:

Complainants:

1.         Shri  S.C.  Agrawal,  along  with  Shri  Prashant  Bhushan  and  Pranav Sachdeva

2.         Shri Anil Bairwal, along with Shri Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Shri Trilochan Sastry, Ms. Shivani Kapoor, Shri Manoj Kumar & A.K. Aneja.

 Respondents:

1.         Shri Chandan Bose, PRO, NCP.

2.         Shri D. Raja, CPI

Election Commission:

1.         Shri K.F. Wilfred, Principal Secretary, Election Commission.

14.       The Full Bench held its second hearing on 1st  November, 2012.  The following were present:

Complainants:

1.         Shri S.C. Agrawal.

2.         Shri Anil Bairwal, along with Shri Jagdeep S. Chhokar,  Ms. Shivani

Kapoor, Shri Manoj Kumar & Shri A.K. Aneja.

Respondents:

1.         Advocate Shubhashis R. Soren for BJP.

2.         Shri S. Ramachandran Pillai of CPI(M).

3.         Advocates Shail Kumar Dwivedi & G.V. Rao for BSP.

4.         Shri Chandan Bose, PRO, NCP and Advocate Amit Anand Tiwari for NCP.

5.       Shri S.C. Agrawal has filed a written representation before the Commission in which he has vehemently pleaded for declaring Political Parties as public authorities under section

2(h) of the RTI Act.  The salient points made in his representation are enumerated herein- below :-

(i)        The Political Parties hold constitutional status and wield constitutional powers under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution in as much as they have the power to –

“a)       disqualify legislators from Parliament and State Assemblies; b)        bind legislators in their speeches and voting inside the house; c)        decide what laws are made;

d)         decide whether Government remains in power or which Government should come to power;

e)        decide public policies that affect lives of millions of people.”

(ii)       As per Article 102 (2) of the Constitution, a person can be disqualified from being a member of either House of Parliament under the Tenth Schedule and that a similar provision exists for the State Legislators under Article 191(2) of the Constitution.  Furthermore, as per Article 102(2), if a member of a House belonging to a Political Party votes or abstains from voting in the House contrary to the directions issued by the Political Party, he is liable to be disqualified from being a Member of the House.

(iii)      The Political Parties have been given statutory status under Section 29A of the

Representation of the People Act, 1951.

(iv)      Under Section 29A (5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the Political Parties are required   to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution of India as by law established.

(v)        The Political Parties give tickets to the candidates and the people vote on party symbols and, thus, the Political Parties are important instrumentalities of democratic governance.

(vi)      The   Political   Parties   are   substantially   financed   by   the   ‘appropriate Government’ in multiple ways and are exempt from Income Tax.

16.       To canvass his case, Shri Agrawal has furnished a copy of letter dated 2.9.2011 of the CPIO of the Land and Development Office(L&DO), Ministry of Urban Development, addressed  to  him  providing  information  regarding  allotment  of  land  by  Land  and Development Office to various Political Parties.  The details of the land allotment to various Political Parties as furnished by the L&DO are extracted below :-

 

S.No. Name of Party Location, Area & Date of allotment
1. All India Congress Committee of Indian National Congress Plot at Dr. Rajinder Prasad Road, New Delhi(also known as Jawahar Bhawan), Area =

9518.42 sq.yds. allotted on 8.9.75.

Pocket-9A, Kotla Road, Area = 8092 sq. m. Allotted on 19.11.2007

2. Rashtriya Janata Dal Plot Nos.  34, 57, 58 & 59 at Kotla Road, New DelhiArea = 1904 sq. m. allotted on 3.7.2007.
3. Communist Party of India(Marxist) Plot Nos. 27, 28 & 29 at Market Road Institutional Area, New DelhiArea = 1197 sq. m. allotted on 24.11.1967

Plot Nos. 10, 11, 12 & 13 at Kotla Road

Area = 2535 sq. m. allotted on 11.12.2008.

4. Samajwadi Party Plot No. 1, Vasant Kunj Institutional Area, New DelhiArea = 1 acre, Allotted on 21.1.2009.
5. Communist Party of India Plot No. 15, Kotla Marg, New DelhiArea = 0.3 acres. Allotted on 2.12.1967
6. Bharatiya Janata Party(National Level) Between Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road and Raisina Road, New Delhi.Area = 1.87 acres. Allotted on 8.3.2001.
7. Janata Dal(United) Plot No.4, Vasant Vihar Institutional Area, New DelhiArea = 2000 sq. m. allotted on 27.4.2010
8. Bharatiya Janata Party(Delhi State) Alternative allotment at Plot No.4 & 5, Kotla Road, New DelhiArea = 1060.80 sq. m. allotted on 12.5.2010
9. All India Anna DravidaMunnetra Kazhakham Plot No. 13 & 25, Pushp Vihar, M.B. Road, Saket, New Delhi,Area = 1008 Sq. m. Allotted on 30.7.2010
10. Delhi Pradesh Congress Plot No. 2, Rouse Avenue Institutional Area

 

“LIST OF POLITICAL PARTIES WHICH HAVE BEEN ALLOTTED LAND BY LAND & DEVELOPMENT OFFICE FOR THEIR OFFICE BUILDINGS

S.No. Name of Party Location, Area & Date of allotment
1. All India Congress Committee of Indian National Congress Plot at Dr. Rajinder Prasad Road, New Delhi(also known as Jawahar Bhawan), Area =

9518.42 sq.yds. allotted on 8.9.75.

Pocket-9A, Kotla Road, Area = 8092 sq. m. Allotted on 19.11.2007

2. Rashtriya Janata Dal Plot Nos.  34, 57, 58 & 59 at Kotla Road, New DelhiArea = 1904 sq. m. allotted on 3.7.2007.
3. Communist Party of India(Marxist) Plot Nos. 27, 28 & 29 at Market Road Institutional Area, New DelhiArea = 1197 sq. m. allotted on 24.11.1967

Plot Nos. 10, 11, 12 & 13 at Kotla Road

Area = 2535 sq. m. allotted on 11.12.2008.

4. Samajwadi Party Plot No. 1, Vasant Kunj Institutional Area, New DelhiArea = 1 acre, Allotted on 21.1.2009.
5. Communist Party of India Plot No. 15, Kotla Marg, New DelhiArea = 0.3 acres. Allotted on 2.12.1967
6. Bharatiya Janata Party(National Level) Between Dr. Rajendra Prasad Road and Raisina Road, New Delhi.Area = 1.87 acres. Allotted on 8.3.2001.
7. Janata Dal(United) Plot No.4, Vasant Vihar Institutional Area, New DelhiArea = 2000 sq. m. allotted on 27.4.2010
8. Bharatiya Janata Party(Delhi State) Alternative allotment at Plot No.4 & 5, Kotla Road, New DelhiArea = 1060.80 sq. m. allotted on 12.5.2010
9. All India Anna DravidaMunnetra Kazhakham Plot No. 13 & 25, Pushp Vihar, M.B. Road, Saket, New Delhi,Area = 1008 Sq. m. Allotted on 30.7.2010
10. Delhi Pradesh Congress Plot No. 2, Rouse Avenue Institutional Area

 

17.       Inadditiontotheabove,ShriAgrawalhasalsofurnishedinformationregardingthe allotmentof accommodationto variousPoliticalPartieson rentalbasisand theoutstanding duesagainstthem,asreceivedbyhimfromtheDirectorateofEstatesvidetheirletterdated

24.8.2011.  Therelevantinformationisextractedbelow:

 

 

S.No.

Nameof theParty

Accommodation

Monthly      rent charged

1.

Indian        National        Congress

Committee(I)

26, AkbarRoad

3015      +Furniture charges

2.

Indian NationalCongress

24, AkbarRoad

42817    +Furniture charges

3.

Indian NationalCongress

5, Raisina Road

34189    +Furniture charges

4.

Indian NationalCongress

CII/109, Chanakyapuri

8078

5.

Bhartiya Janata Party

11, Ashoka Road

66896  +  Furniture charges

6.

Bharatiya Janata Party

14,    Pandit    Pant

Marg

15077  +  Furniture charges

7.

C.P.I.

AB-4,PuranaQuila

Road

1550

8.

NationalistCongressParty

10, Dr. B.D. Marg

1320

9.

President Bahujan Samaj Party

4, G.R.G.Road

1320

10.

Samajwadi Party

18,         Copernicus

Road

12138

11.

Shri    Prakash    Karat,    General

Secretary,CPI(M)

8, TeenMurtiLane

1550

 

 

18.ShriAnilBairwalhasalsofiledadetailedrepresentationbeforethisCommissionto contend  that  Political  Parties  fall  in  the  ambitofsection  2(h)  ofthe  RTI  Act.   In  his representation,ShriBairwalhasmadethe followingsalientpoints:

 

(i)        AllthePoliticalPartieshavebeenclaimingtaxexemptionundersection13A of theIncomeTax Act.  Asper hisrepresentation,variousPoliticalPartiesclaimed IncomeTaxexemptionasgivenin thefollowing Table:


 

Party

Tax Payable exempted   in FY 2006-07(Rs crores)

Tax payable exempted   in FY2007-08 (Rs crores)

Tax payable exempted   in FY 2008-09(Rs crores)

Tax payable exemptedin 3 years (Rs crores)

BJP

26.86

40.68

73.71

141.25

INC

57.00

75.05

168.87

300.92

BSP

15.44

23.60

0.80

39.84

CPI(M)

6.98

4.62

6.53

18.13

CPI

0.01

0.21

0.02

0.24

NCP

0.90

0.68

8.06

9.64

 

 Click Here

S.No.

Nameof Party

Location, Area & Date of allotment

1.

AllIndiaCongressCommittee of Indian NationalCongress

PlotatDr. RajinderPrasadRoad, New Delhi

(also known as JawaharBhawan), Area =

9518.42 sq.yds. allottedon 8.9.75.

Pocket-9A, KotlaRoad, Area =8092 sq. m. Allottedon 19.11.2007

2.

Rashtriya Janata Dal

PlotNos.  34, 57, 58 &59 atKotlaRoad, New Delhi

Area=1904 sq. m.allottedon 3.7.2007.

3.

CommunistParty of India

(Marxist)

PlotNos. 27, 28 &29 atMarketRoad Institutional Area, New Delhi

Area=1197 sq. m.allottedon 24.11.1967

PlotNos. 10, 11, 12 &13 atKotlaRoad

Area=2535 sq. m.allottedon 11.12.2008.

4.

SamajwadiParty

PlotNo. 1, Vasant KunjInstitutionalArea, New Delhi

Area=1 acre, Allottedon 21.1.2009.

5.

CommunistParty of India

PlotNo. 15, Kotla Marg, New Delhi

Area=0.3 acres. Allottedon 2.12.1967

6.

Bharatiya JanataParty

(NationalLevel)

BetweenDr. RajendraPrasad Road andRaisinaRoad, New Delhi.

Area=1.87 acres. Allottedon 8.3.2001.

7.

JanataDal(United)

PlotNo.4, Vasant Vihar Institutional Area, New Delhi

Area=2000 sq. m.allottedon 27.4.2010

8.

Bharatiya JanataParty

(DelhiState)

AlternativeallotmentatPlotNo.4 &5, KotlaRoad, New Delhi

Area=1060.80 sq. m.allottedon 12.5.2010

9.

AllIndiaAnnaDravida

Munnetra Kazhakham

PlotNo. 13 &25, Pushp Vihar, M.B. Road, Saket, New Delhi,

Area=1008 Sq. m.Allottedon 30.7.2010

10.

DelhiPradesh Congress

PlotNo. 2, Rouse AvenueInstitutionalArea

 

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