VOICE OF INDIAN
Wednesday, July 17, 2013
Political Parties come under the definition of “public authority” as given in section 2(h) of the RTI Act."
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
August Kranti Bhawan, Bhikaji Cama Place, New Delhi 110066
File No. CIC/SM/C/2011/001386
1. Shri Subhash Chandra Aggarwal
2. Shri Anil Bairwal
1. Indian National Congress/ All India Congress Committee (AICC);
2. Bhartiya Janata Party(BJP);
3. Communist Party of India (Marxist) (CPM);
4. Communist Party of India(CPI);
5. Nationalist Congress Party(NCP); and
6. Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP)
Dates of hearing: 26th September & 1st November, 2012.
Date of Decision: 3rd June 2013
Complainant Subhash Chandra Agrawal (Shri S.C.Agrawal) has filed Complaint No.CIC/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 thedisclosure of the accounts and funding of Political Parties has been raised. Hence, it hasbeen decided to dispose of these matters through a common order.
File No. CIC/SM/C/001386:
2. 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
having formed government at the Centre.
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
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
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.”
3. Shri Moti Lal Vora, Treasurer, AICC, in his letter dated 20th May, 2011, hadinformed the complainant that AICC did not come under the purview of the RTI Act.
4. 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, theParty 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 thefollowing information from the under mentioned Political Parties:
“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?
You may provide this information in the following format:
S.No. Source/Name of
year in which
2. Sources/Names of all Voluntary Contributors along with their addresseswho have made single contributions of more than Rs. 1 lakh to your party fromFinancial Year 2004-05 to Financial Year 2009-10?You may provide this information in the following format:
Source/Name of Contributor Address of Contributor
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-governmentorganization. Hence, we do not have much more resources nor surplus staff toexpedite unusual work, which is not in our routine job.We generate funds from the membership drive and through other resourcesalso, 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 gettingfunds in lakhs. State units of NCP at district level, block level and panchayatlevel organizemembership camps frequently and every two years, we file thedetails 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 dulyrecognized by Election Commission of India and that from the day of inceptionof our party, we have been regularly filing our returns to the Income Tax authorities and also to the Election Commission of India along with whatevervoluntary contributions received. It is pertinent to mention here that our allobligation towards authorities are up to date.If you feel like, you may collect all the information you desired, from the abovesaid 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 andBhartiya Janata Party, being national parties, had got premium land in Delhi/New Delhi atzonal 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 ofthe 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, beforethe Commission against the responses received from INC/AICC, NCP & CPI, contendingtherein that the Political Parties, being beneficiaries of the Government, fell under the ambitof 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
· 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 26th September, 2012. The following were
1. Shri S.C. Agrawal, along with Shri Prashant Bhushan and Pranav Sachdeva.
2. Shri Anil Bairwal, along with Shri Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Shri TrilochanSastry, Ms. Shivani Kapoor, Shri Manoj Kumar & A.K. Aneja.
1. Shri Chandan Bose, PRO, NCP.
2. Shri D. Raja, CPI
1. Shri K.F. Wilfred, Principal Secretary, Election Commission.
14. The Full Bench held its second hearing on 1st November, 2012. The following were
1. Shri S.C. Agrawal.
2. Shri Anil Bairwal, along with Shri Jagdeep S. Chhokar, Ms. ShivaniKapoor, Shri Manoj Kumar & Shri A.K. Aneja.
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
15. Shri S.C. Agrawal has filed a written representation before the Commission in whichhe 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 hereinbelow
(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 frombeing a member of either House of Parliament under the Tenth Schedule andthat a similar provision exists for the State Legislators under Article 191(2) ofthe Constitution. Furthermore, as per Article 102(2), if a member of a Housebelonging to a Political Party votes or abstains from voting in the Housecontrary to the directions issued by the Political Party, he is liable to bedisqualified from being a Member of the House.
(iii) The Political Parties have been given statutory status under Section 29A of theRepresentation of the People Act, 1951.(iv) Under Section 29A (5) of the Representation of People Act, 1951, the PoliticalParties are required to bear true faith and allegiance to the Constitution ofIndia as by law established.
(v) The Political Parties give tickets to the candidates and the people vote onparty symbols and, thus, the Political Parties are important instrumentalities of democratic governance.
(vi) The Political Parties are substantially financed by the ‘appropriateGovernment’ 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 theCPIO of the Land and Development Office(L&DO), Ministry of Urban Development,addressed to him providing information regarding allotment of land by Land andDevelopment Office to variousPolitical Parties. The details of the land allotment to variousPolitical Parties as furnished by the L&DO are extracted below :-
“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 Committeeof Indian National CongressPlot 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, N New DelhiArea = 1197 sq. m. allotted on 24.11.1967Plot Nos. 10, 11, 12 & 13 at Kotla RoadArea = 2535 sq. m. allotted on 11.12.2008.4. Samajwadi Party Plot No. 1, Vasant KunjInstitutional 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 2.12.19676.BharatiyaJanata 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 KazhakhamPlot 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-8-Committee Area = 1127 sq. yds. Allotted on 15.5.1987
11. All India Trinamool Congress Plot Nos. 2 and 3, at DDU Marg, New DelhiArea = 1000 sq. m.allotted on 01.03.2011.
17. In addition to the above, Shri Agrawal has also furnished information regarding theallotment of accommodation to various Political Parties on rental basis and the outstanding dues against them, as received by him from the Directorate of Estates vide their letter dated24.8.2011. The relevant information is extracted below:
S.No. Name of the Party Accommodation Monthly rentcharged
1. Indian National Congress
Committee (I)26, Akbar Road 3015 +Furniturecharges
2. Indian National Congress 24, Akbar Road 42817 +Furniturecharges
3. Indian National Congress 5, Raisina Road 34189 +Furniturecharges
4. Indian National Congress CII/109,Chanakyapuri8078
5. Bhartiya Janata Party 11, Ashoka Road 66896 + Furniturecharges
6. Bharatiya Janata Party 14, Pandit PantMarg15077 + Furniturecharges7. C.P.I. AB-4, Purana QuilaRoad1550
8. Nationalist Congress Party 10, Dr. B.D. Marg 1320
9. President Bahujan Samaj Party 4, G.R.G. Road 1320
10. Samajwadi Party 18, Copernicusm Road12138
11. Shri Prakash Karat, GeneralSecretary, CPI(M)8, Teen Murti Lane 1550
18. Shri Anil Bairwal has also filed a detailed representation before this Commission tocontendthat Political Parties fall in the ambit of section 2(h) of the RTI Act. In hisrepresentation, Shri Bairwal has made the following salient points :-
(i) All the Political Parties have been claiming tax exemption under section 13A
of the Income Tax Act. As per his representation, various Political Parties claimed
Income Tax exemption as given in the following Table:
Party Tax Payableexempted inFY 2006-07(Rscrores)Tax payableexempted inFY 2007-08 (Rscrores)Tax payableexempted inFY 2008-09 (Rscrores)Tax payableexempted in 3years (Rscrores)BJP 26.86 40.68 73.71 141.25INC 57.00 75.05 168.87 300.92BSP 15.44 23.60 0.80 39.84CPI(M) 6.98 4.62 6.53 18.13CPI 0.01 0.21 0.02 0.24NCP 0.90 0.68 8.06 9.64( Source :Compilation from copies of Income Tax Returns received fromIncome Tax Departmentunder RTI Act)
(ii) State has been indirectly financing various Political Parties by way of free air
time on All India Radio. As per his calculation, the amount spent by the State on the
Political Parties under this Head is as follows:
S.No. Name of thepartyTime allottedfor broadcastat the AIRduringLS’09(Min) forPoliticalPartiesRate chargedby AIR in timecategory-3 forevery 10secondsAmountspentby the State forAIR (Rs lakhs)
1. BJP 140 800 6.72
2. BSP 70 800 3.36
3. CPI 50 800 2.40
4. CPI(M) 70 800 3.36
5. INC 160 800 7.68
6. NCP 50 800 2.40
7. RJD 55 800 2.64
Total 595 800 28.56
(Source : Compilation from Spot Buy Rates and Time Allocated to various
Political Parties received from All India Radio and Election Commission of
India under various RTI applications).
(iii). The complainant has also argued that the State has spent huge amounts on the Political
Parties in the matter of free air time on Doordarshan. The table given by him is reproduced
nationalnetwork ofDDduringLokSabha’09(Min) Ratecharged bynationalnetwork ofDD at
nonprime timeevery 10secondsAmount spent by thestate for thenational
networkduring LS’09(Rs.crores)Timeallotted fortelecast attheregionalnetworkduringLS’ 09(Min.) RateChargedByregionalnetworkat nonprimetimeevery
10secondsAmount spent byState for theregional networkduring
LS’09(Rs.crores)Total Amount spent bythe state on politicalparties for both the
nationalandregional network duringLS’09(Rs.crores)
1 BJP 140 15,000 1.26 215 10,000 1.25 2.51
2 INC INC 160 15,000 1.44 240 10,000 1.44 2.88
3 BSP 70 15,000 0.63 100 10,000 0.60 1.23
4 CPI 50 15,000 0.45 75 10,000 0.45 0.90
5 CPI(M) 70 15,000 0.63 105 10,000 0.63 1.26
6 NCP 50 15,000 0.45 80 10,000 0.48 0.93
7 RJD 55 15,000 0.49 85 10,000 0.51 1.00
Total 595 5.35 900 5.40 10.75
( Source : Compilation from Spot Buy Rates and Time Allocated to various Political
Parties received from Doordarshan and Election Commission of India under the
(iv) The valuation of the properties allotted by the Government, as estimated by thecomplainant Shri Bairwal, as given in his representation, is as follows :-
Party Office and address(with allotment dates)Area(A)Area in Sq.Fts.(1 sq.m.=10.76Sq. fts,1 sq. yd.= 9sq.fts.,1 Acre= 4840sq.yds.)(B)Current MarketValue of theAllotteed Plots ofLand(based onReal EstateConsultingReports @ Rs.60,000 per sq.ft(Rs.in Crores)(C=B*60,000)Current MarketValue of theseallotted plots(Party-wise) (Rs.In crores)INC 1. Plot at Dr. RajinderPrasad Road, NewDelhi(Allottedon 08.09.1975)
2. Pocket 9A, Kotla Road,New Delhi(allotted on19.11.20079518.42 sq.yds.8092 sq. m.85665.7887069.92513.99522.
421036.41BJP 1. Between Dr. RajendraPrasad Road and
Raisinha1.87 acres81457.20 488.74 557.23
Road(allotted on08.03.2001)2. Plot No.4 & 5 KotlaRoad New Delhi (allottedon 12.05.2010)
1060.80sq.m11414.21 68.49CPI(M) Plots No.27, 28 & 29 atMarket Road InstitutionalArea, New Delhi(allottedon 11.04.1967)Plot No.10, 11, 12 & 13Kotla Road, New Delhi(allotted on11.12.2008)1197 sq.m.2535 sq.m.12879.7227276.6077.28163.
CPI Plot No. 15 Kotla Marg,New Delhi(allotted on2.12.1967).3 acres 13068.00 78.41 78.41RJD Plots No. 34,57,58 & 59 atKotla Road, NewDelhi(allotted on 03.07.2007)1904 sq.m. 20487.04 122.92 122.92SP Plot No.1, Vasant KunjInstitutional Area, New Delhi(Allotted on 21.01.2009)1 Acre43560.00 261.36 261.36JD Plot No.4, Vasant ViharInstitutional Area, NewDelhi(allotted on 24.10.2010)2000 sq.m. 21520.00 129.12 129.12AIADMK Plot Nos.2 and 3 at DDU Marg,NewDelhi(Allotted on01.03.2011)1008 sq.m. 846.08 65.08 65.08AITC Plot Nos.2 and 3 at DDUMarg, New Delhi (Allotted on01.03.2011)1000 sq. m.10760.00 64.56 64.56Total of current Market Values of the plots of land allotted to thePolitical Parties(Rs. In Crores)2556.02 2556.02
(v) Under Rules 11 and 12 of the Registration of Electors Rules, 1960, two copiesof theElectoral Rolls are supplied to the recognized Political Parties, free of cost.This is another instance of indirect financing of the Political Parties by the State.
(vi) The Central Govt. and the State Governments have allotted varioushouses/buildings/
of accommodation to various Political Parties either freeof cost or at
concessional rates. This also amounts to indirect financing of PoliticalParties
by the respective Governments.
(vii) The Political Parties are continuously engaged in the performance of publicduty and it is,therefore, important that they become accountable to the public.Transparency in the workingand financial operations of the Political Parties isessential in the larger public interest.
19. Senior Advocate, Shri Prashant Bhushan addressed the Commission on 26thSeptember, 2012 on behalf of complainant Shri S.C. Agrawal. He vehemently contendedthat the entire political system in India revolved around the Political Parties. They perform apublic function and, therefore, warrant to be declared ‘public authority’ under section 2(h) ofthe RTI Act. In amplification of his above broad submission, he has advanced the followingarguments:-
(i) Tenth Schedule to the Constitution vests tremendous powers with the PoliticalParties in as much as they can oust an elected member – whether MP or MLA - fromout of the Party if he steps out of the party line. The vast power of the PoliticalParties has been recognised in this Schedule and, therefore, if purposive interpretationof the Tenth Schedule is made, then the Political Parties can be deemed to be coveredunder Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.(ii) As perSection 29C of the Representation of People Act, 1951, all donationsof and above Rs. 20,000/- made to Political Parties are required to be reported to theIncome Tax Department. This obligation cast on the Political Parties points towardstheir public character.
(iii) By virtue of powers conferred on it under Article 324 of the Constitution readwith section 29Aof the Representation of People Act, 1951, and Rules 5 and 10 ofthe Conduct of Election Rules, 1961, and other powers vested in it, the ElectionCommission of India made and promulgated the Election Symbols (Reservation andAllotment) Order, 1968. Under this Order, Election Commission allots symbols tovarious Political Parties. The Election Commission is aninstrumentality of the State.Allotment of election symbols by the Election Commission to various PoliticalParties is suggestive of the public character of the Political Parties.
(iv) The Political Parties get huge tax exemptions under section 13 A of theIncome Tax Act, 1961, which amounts to indirect financing of the Political Parties interms of Section 2(h)(d)(i) of the RTI Act.(v) The Central Government and the State Governments have allotted huge plotsof land/buildings/other accommodation in prime locations to all Political Parties allover the country either, free of cost, or on hugely concessional rates. This alsoamounts to indirect financing of the Political Parties.
(vi) Doordarshan of India allots free air time to the Political Parties during theelections. This is another instance of indirect financing of the Political Parties.
(vii) As the Political Parties are the life blood of the entire constitutional scheme ina democratic polity and as they are indirectly financed by the Central Governmentand the State Governments in various ways, as discussed hereinabove, the PoliticalParties need to be declared public authority under section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
20. Shri A.K. Aneja, appearing on behalf of the complainants, in his brief submission hasdrawn the Commission’s attention to section 80 GGB of the Income Tax Act which providesthat contribution made by an individual or Company to a Political Party is deductible fromthe total income of the assesee. This provision is exclusively applicable to the PoliticalParties and is suggestive of indirect financing of the Political Parties by the State.
21. Complainant Shri Anil Bairwal has also filed detailed extra submissions before theCommission arguing that the Political Parties need to be declared Public Authority under section
2(h) of the RTI Act. His first and foremost submission is that Political Parties have a ‘binding
nexus with the populace’. He goes on to say that “As the Central Institution of democracy, they
embody the will of the people and carry all their expectations that democracy will be trulyresponsive to their needs and help solve the most pressing problems that confront them inthedaily lives”.
22. His second submission is that there is need for accountability and transparency in the
functioning of the Political Parties. It is his contention that transparency in the functioning of
Political Parties was recommended by the Law Commission of India in their 170th Report on
“Reform of Electoral Laws (1999)”. The relevant para of the Law Commission’s report as
extracted by him is given below :-
“On the parity of the above reasoning, it must be said that if democracy andaccountability constitute the core of our constitutional system, the same concepts mustalso apply to and bind the Political Parties which are integral to parliamentarydemocracy. It is the Political Parties that form the Government, man the Parliamentand run the governance of the country. It is therefore, necessary to introduceinternal democracy, financial transparency and accountability in the working of thePolitical Parties. A political party which does not respect democratic principles in its internal working cannot be expected to respect those principles in the governance ofthe country. It cannot be dictatorship internally and democratic in its functioningoutside”.(emphasis added by the complainant)
23. Shri Bairwal has also relied on this Commissions decision dated 29.04.2008 in File No.
CIC/AT/A/2007/01029 & 01263-01270 wherein transparency in the functioning of Political
Parties has been underlined. He particularly draws our attention to para 28 of the decision
extracted below :-
“28. Political Parties are a unique institution of the modern constitutional State.These are essentially civil society institutions and are, therefore, non governmental.Their uniqueness lies in the fact that in spite of being non governmental, PoliticalParties come to wield or directly or indirectly influence, exercise of governmentalpower. It is this link between State power and Political Parties that has assumedcritical significance in the context of the Right of Information – an Act which hasbrought into focus the imperatives of transparency in the functioning of Stateinstitutions. It would be facetious to argue that transparency is good for all Stateorgans, but not so good for the Political Parties which control the most important ofthose organs. For example, it will be a fallacy to hold that transparency is good forthe bureaucracy but not good enough for the Political Partieswhich control thosebureaucracies through political executives”.
24. The Commission has further observed :
“38. The laws of the land do not make it mandatory for Political Parties todisclose the sources of their funding, and even less so the manner of expending thosefunds. In theabsence of such laws, the only way a citizen can gain access to thedetails of funding of Political Parties is through their Income Tax Returns filedannually with Income Tax authorities. This is about the closest the Political Partiesget to accounting for the sources and the extent of their funding and theirexpenditure. There is unmistakable public interest in knowing these funding detailswhich would enable the citizen to make an informed choice about the PoliticalParties to vote for. The RTI Act emphasizes that “democracy requires an informedcitizenry”, and that transparency of information is vital to flawless functioning ofconstitutional democracy. It is nobody’s case that while all organs of the State must exhibit maximum transparency, no such obligation attaches to Political Parties.Given that Political Parties influence the exercise of political power, transparency intheir organization, functions and, more particularly, their means of funding is ademocratic imperative, and, therefore, is in public interest”.
25. Another strand of his submissions is that the Public Authority, as defined under section2(h) of the RTI Act, is a broader term than the ‘State’ as defined under Article 12 of theConstitution. In other words, it is possible that an entity may fall short of being ‘State’ and yetmay be a ‘PublicAuthority’ under the RTI Act. In fact, ‘Public Authority’ and the ‘State’ are different and distinct from each other. Shri Bairwal has relied on para 25 of the judgment ofPunjab and Haryana High Court in WP(C) No. 19224/2006 along with 23 other cases asextracted below :-
“25. Above-all, the deep and pervasive control as required under Article 12, is notrequired and essential ingredient for invoking the provisions of RTI Act. Theprimary purpose of instrumentality of the State is in relation to enforcement of thefundamental rights through Courts, whereas the RTI Act is intended to achieve, access to informationand to provide an effective framework for effecting the right toinformation recognized under Article 19 of the Constitution. The complainants arenot claiming any kind of monetary benefits or property from the empire of the-16-petitioner-
institutions. To my mind, the enforcement of
fundamental rights throughCourts and the question of applicability of writ
jurisdiction on an instrumentality ofthe State for the purpose of determination
of substantive rights and liabilities of theparties are altogether (entirely)different than that of the
field of RTI Act, only meantto impart the information.Hence, in my view, the ambit and scope of phrase
ofinstrumentality of the State under Article 12 of the Constitution is entirely
differentand distinct than that of the regime of RTI Act. If the intention of the Legislaturewas to so
restrict the meaning to theexpression of public authority, straightjacketingthe
same within the four corners of the State, as defined under Article 12, then
therewas no need/occasion to assign a specific broader definition of public
authority undersection 2(h) of RTI Act in this relevant connection”.26. The complainant has
also argued that while determining whether a particular entity is aPublic
Authority or not, narrow interpretation of the words used in the statute would
frustrate theobject of the Act. The purpose of this Act is transparency and
accountability in the functioning of entities which impact citizens’ daily
lives. The Political Parties are such entities. He hasrelied on para 41 of the
Delhi High Court judgment delivered by Justice Ravindra Bhat in IndianOlympic
Association –Vs- Veerish Malik and others(WP)(C) No. 876/2007 as extracted
“The Act marks a legislative milestone in the post independence era to furtherdemocracy. It empowers citizens and information applicants to demand and besupplied with information about public records. Parliamentary endeavor is to extendit also to public authorities which impact citizens daily lives. The Act mandatesdisclosure of all manner of information and abolishes the concept of locus standi ofthe information applicant; no justification for applying (for information) isnecessary; decisions and decision making processes, which affect lives of individualsand groups of citizens are now open to examination. Parliamentary intentionapparently was to empower people with the means to scrutinize government and publicprocesses, and ensure transparency. Atthe same time, the need of society at large,and Governments as well as individuals in particular, to ensure that sensitiveinformation is kept out of bounds have also been accommodated under the Act.”
27. Yet another submission of the complainant is that the Political Parties are being indirectly
financed by the State in various ways viz. allotment of land, free of cost, or at nominal rates and
exemptions from the Income Tax etc. Paras 3.1 to 3.7 of his representation are extracted
“3.1 All Political Parties claim to work for the people and in the national interest.
Income tax returns of Political Parties obtained by ADR using the RTI Act
reveal that on an average only about 20 per cent of the income of Political
Parties comes from donations that they disclose to the Election Commission
under section 29C of the Representation of People Act. The sources of the
remaining 80 per cent of the income are shrouded in mystery. This is what
gives rise to all kinds of speculation about the pernicious influence of illegal
3.2 After various RTI applications filed to the central agencies, it was discovered
that Political Parties enjoy a number of “facilities” provided to them by the
government. This is a clear instance of being “financed indirectly by funds
provided by the appropriate government” which puts Political Parties
squarely under the definition of ‘public authority’ as provided for in section
2(h)(d)(ii) of the RTI Act.
3.3 In addition to the 100% exemption on income under section 13A of the
Income Tax Act, all the major Political Parties have been provided
“facilities” for residential and official use by Directorate of Estates (DOE),
Government of India, in New Delhi. They have been given offices and
residential accommodations at prime locations in New Delhi(Lutyen’s Delhi)
such as Akbar Road, Raisina Road, Chanakyapuri. The rentals charged are
a fraction of the market rent. These facilities are not just provided to them
at nominal rates but their maintenance, upgradation, modernization,
renovation, etc. are also done at State expense. Similar “facilities” are also
provided at various State capitals, details of which are extremely difficult to
3.4 Money is also spent by Election Commission of India on Political Parties for
providing “facilities” to Political Parties such as free electoral rolls,
Doordarshan and All India Radio also provide free broadcast facilities to the
Political Parties at election time which results in loss of revenue in terms of
air time which has a market value.
3.5 If closely monitored and totalled, the total of public funds spent on Political
Parties would possibly amount to hundreds of crores.
3.6 There have been several Judicial pronouncements and also decisions by the
Central Information Commission that have held that allotment of real estate,
rental on subsidized rated, exemption from tax of various types including
income tax amount to “indirect financing” in terms of section 2(h)(d)(ii) of
the RTI Act. A few of the more useful citations are given below.
3.6.1 Land : The case that is relevant here is Civil Writ Petition No. 16750
of 2010, The Sutlej Club vs. State Information Commission and
another decided on 09.05.2011, commonly referred to as CWP No.
19224 of 2006 alongwith 23 connected cases. The Punjab and
Haryana High Court held as follows :
“72. Now adverting to the financial help of petitioner-Sutlej Club,
Ludhiana(at Sr. No.15) is concerned, the SIC mentioned that as per
revenue record, the land owned by the Provincial Government is
given to the Club which amounts to substantial financial assistance by
the State Government. The fact that the valuable land upon which the
Club was constructed, belongs to the Government and no rent/lease is
paid by it to the Government shows that there is a substantial financial
assistance by the State to the Club. The cost of prime land provided to
the club would be much more than its normal revenue expenditure.
Apart from land provided for construction of the club building, the
Government has also incurred a part of expenditure on its
construction…. In my view, the SIC has recorded the correct finding
of fact based on the material on record, by virtue of impugned order
3.6.2 Land and Income Tax concessions : A directly relevant case here,
dealing with both, land and income tax, was decided by the Central Information
Commission on 11.01.2012. It was Mr. Tilak Raj Tanwar vs Government of NCT of Delhi,
File No. : CIC/AD/A/2011/001699. After considering all aspects of the issue, the
Commission decided as follows :
“12. The Commission while relying upon the various
decisions given hereinabove is convinced that the Mount St. Mary’s
School may be considered as being “substantially financed” by the
appropriate Governmen, in view of the 5 acres of prime land granted to
it at subsidized rates and income tax concessions being enjoyed by the
school and that, therefore, it can be declared as a Public authority”.
3.6.3 Exemption from Tax : The case that is relevant here is Civil Writ
Petition No. 16086 of 2008, Punjab Cricket Association, SAS Nagar(Mohali) vs State
Information Commission, Punjab and another, decided on 09.05.2011, commonly referred
to as CWP No. 19224 of 2006 alongwith 23 connected cases. The Punjab and Haryana
High Court held as follows :
“68. Now adverting to the case of petitioner –PCA (at Sr. No.12), it
is admitted position that it is enjoying tax exemption from entertainment
tax which is an direct financial aid by the State to it. Although the SIC
has negatived the plea of the complainant-information seeker, but to
my mind, the SIC has slipped into deep legal error in this regard
because the PCA is saving heavy amount from exemption of
entertainment tax which naturally is an incidence of financial aid by the
3.6.4 Tax exemption and nominal rent : Another case relevant here is
Board of Control for Cricket India and another vs Netaji Cricket Club and others [2005
AIR (SC) 5921]. The Supreme Court observed as follows :
“80. The Board is a society registered under the Tamil Nadu
Societies Registration Act. It enjoys a monopoly status as regard
regulation of the sport of cricket in terms of its Memorandum of
Association and Articles of Association. It controls the sport of
cricket and lays down the law therefor. It, inter alia, enjoys benefits
by way of tax exemption and right to use stadia at nominal annual rent.
3.7 While it may well be argued that the above quoted decisions refer to
institutions such as schools, clubs which, in some characteristics, are
different from Political Parties but these decisions do recognize, accept
and establish the principle that exemption from tax and allotment or
permission to use land and other real estate is an accepted form of
“financing”, though it may be considered “indirect” as it is not in the
physical form of money. And this principle is one of the factors that
makes Political Parties come under the definition of “public
authority” as given in section 2(h) of the RTI Act."