ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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CIC's Nudge

Transparency and accountability of political parties will only strengthen democracy.

The Central Information Commission (CIC) ruling that all political parties are public authorities under the Right to Information (RTI) Act and that those currently designated as national parties should not only appoint mandatory information authorities but also disclose information under relevant sections of the Act within six weeks is a landmark decision. It has, not surprisingly, visibly shaken some political parties. It has also divided public opinion about its implications. The practical difficulties of implementing the order notwithstanding, studies on party democracy, regulation and finance inform us that there is considerable merit in the spirit of the ruling.

The general atmosphere which probably encouraged the CIC intervention may have been, as has been correctly observed, a result of a pervasive climate of distrust of political parties in general and politicians specifically. Yet, this widespread trust deficit is not something specific to India but is shared with most other democracies where large proportions of the citizenry find political parties more corrupt as compared to other institutions. Consequently, the demands for greater and constant public scrutiny of politicians and political parties have been steadily rising.

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