The Right to Information (Amendment) Bill 2013 was introduced on August 12 in the Lok Sabha by Minister of State for Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions V Narayanasamy. It was referred to Parliamentary Standing Committee on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice headed by Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik.

The bill intends to amend the Act to keep the political parties out of the purview of the RTI Act, with a view to remove the adverse effects of the decision of the Central Information Commission dated June 3, 2013 which has held that six political parties are public authorities under the transparency law, said an advertisement seeking people's view or suggestion in this regard.

The Committee has invited memoranda containing views or suggestions from the individuals or organizations in connection with the Bill. The panel will also hear select oral evidence from stake holders concerned.

People can send in their views or suggestions within 15 days time, according to the advertisement that appeared in newspapers on Saturday.

The Union Cabinet had last month cleared a proposal to amend the RTI Act. The Cabinet's decision had come nearly two months after the Central Information Commission's order of bringing six national political parties -- Congress, BJP, NCP, CPI-M, CPI and BSP -- under the RTI Act.

The government has proposed an amendment in Section 2 of the Act, which defines public authority, to shield the political parties. The amendments are proposed to make it clear that the definition of public authority shall not include any political party registered under the Representation of the People Act.

The CIC had held that the six national parties have been substantially funded indirectly by the central government and were required to appoint public information officers as they have the character of a public authority under the RTI Act.

The order had evoked sharp reactions from political parties, especially Congress which has been credited with bringing in the transparency law. Many RTI activists have opposed the proposed amendments.


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