Ranjit Mahanti

DELHI based noted RTI activist R K Jain had filed an RTI application with Congress last February but with there being no response to it, he later made a complaint in that regard before the CIC. Now, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has issued notice to Congress chief Sonia Gandhi asking her to explain why her party has not complied with the directives of a panel about responding to RTI queries and not replying to an RTI plea.

In a separate case filed by activist Subhash Agrawal, notices were also sent to BJP President Amit Shah and the chiefs of the remaining four political parties.

According to media reports, a full bench of CIC had declared that five national parties – Congress, BJP, CPI, CPI-M, NCP and BSP — are public authorities. These are answerable under the RTI Act, but none of the parties either set up any mechanism to respond to such queries nor alter law or challenge the order in any high court.

Alleging “non-action” on his complaint, Jain approached the Delhi High Court seeking directions for the CIC to take action on his plea. The High Court gave six months to the Commission to take action on Jain’s complaint.

Refusal to provide information or not furnishing complete information is deemed an offence under the RTI Act, which prescribes a penalty of Rs 250 per day on the public information officer of the public authority from the date the information became due to the day that it was finally made available.

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