September 18|New Delhi
Denial of Absolute Exemption for CBI
Gone are the days when CBI played hide and seek with the Right to Information (RTI) Act to deny information regarding corruption and human rights violations. C.J. Karira, Hyderabad-based activist had requested to seek information pertaining to corruption in some of the top offices of the country from the CBI. However, CBI has been using the section 24 of the RTI as a blanket to deny the information to the since it is exempted from the RTI act. The CBI has cited section 24 of the RTI Act to deny the information. . In its response to the request filed by C.J. Karira, CBI said that the information on alleged corruption and human rights violation can be shared only if the official of the agency is involved. Satyananda Mishra, Chief Information Commissioner in 2012 rejected the claims of the agency and made it clear that RTI Act in section 24 will not be applied to the issue of information related to corruption and human rights violations. He also added that the RTI Act does not make distinction against its employee or not. Dissatisfied with the result, CBI challenged the decision in Delhi High Court.
What does this actually state?
The act does not cover intelligence and security organizations. The list of exempted organizations include Intelligence bureau (IB), Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), National Investigation Agency (NIA) and the Enforcement Directorate, to which CBI was added by UPA Government. However, the exemption provided to these organization under section 24 clearly of RTI Act states that it does not include the information related to allegations of corruptions and human rights violation.
Stand of the High Court
The high court of Delhi made it clear that the CBI cannot claim complete immunity from the answering to the allegations of corruption and human rights violation. In its verdict, Justice Vibhu Bakhru pointed out that “It is apparent from the plain reading of the first proviso to section 24(1) of the Act that the information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violation are not excluded from the purview.” The bench has ordered and made it crystal clear that if the petition file includes the issue related to corruption and human rights violation, none of the exempted organizations is exempted from disclosing the information.