Political parties told to respect RTI laws

Kathmandu, January 3

National Information Commission today issued a three-point order to all registered political parties  telling them to respect citizens’ right to information.

In the three-point order, the NIC said the political parties had to make pro-active disclosure on 20 types of activities as stipulated in Section 5 of the Right to Information Act and put flex boards with the names and photos of the parties’ information officers, along with their contact details, outside their party headquarters.

The NIC has also told the parties to update information about the disclosures made under the Right to Information Act every three months.

Information Commissioner Kiran Kumar Pokharel told THT that NIC decided to issue the directives to the political parties mainly to hold them accountable.

He said if the political parties ensured transparency and good governance as stipulated in the Right to Information Act, it could inspire other political bodies to improve their conduct and ensure transparency and good governance.

“Respect of Right to Information Act by political parties is significant in a democracy, as the parties play a vital role in the functioning of democracy,” Pokharel added.

He said NIC’s directives were aimed at encouraging the parties to disclose their activities and economic transactions.

“Conduct of the political parties reflects the state of democracy,” Pokharel said and added that most of the political parties had not yet honoured the Right to Information Act. Political parties are also defined as public bodies under this Act, he added.

Spokesperson for the UCPN-M Dinanath Sharma said the new directives of the NIC needed discussion and refused to either back them or condemn them.

Election Commissioner Ila Sharma said in a democracy it was critical for the political parties to make public the details of their financial transactions.

“We are going to cancel registration of 20 political parties soon for not complying with the rules of furnishing details of financial transactions,” she said and added that the Election Commission would not spare any party, be it big or small, if it violated rules and regulations.

Sharma said the EC was preparing to draft the law that would govern the financial transaction of the political parties.