New Delhi, Jul 1: The Central Information Commission today came down heavily on the government for exempting CBI from RTI Act saying it cannot “frustrate” a law made by Parliament by resorting to such “colourable administrative fiat”.
The exemption is “not in consonance with letter or spirit” of the transparency law, the Commission observed while hearing a petition filed by Justice (retd) R N Mishra, an accused in the PF Scam, who sought information on the case through an RTI application.
The information was denied by the CBI saying it has been brought by the government under the list of organisations exempted from making disclosure under transparency law with effect from June 9, 2011.
Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said the CBI probes crimes of corruption, economic offences, and “serious and organised crimes other than terrorism”. “This Commission rules that the said notification of June 9, 2011 is not in consonance with the letter or spirit of Section 24 of the RTI Act, since it constricts the citizen's fundamental right in a manner not sanctioned by the law,” Gandhi said.
Gandhi said mandate and functions of the CBI show that it does not appear to fit the description of an “intelligence or security organisation” under Section 24(2) of the RTI Act. “The Government appears to have stretched the interpretation of Section 24(2) of the RTI Act far beyond what Parliament had intended, by including an investigating agency such as CBI within the Second Schedule, which was envisaged exclusively for intelligence or security organisations,” he said in the order.
He said with unearthing of various scams which are being investigated by CBI, the move would be considered to be a step to avoid the gaze and monitoring of citizens in matters of corruption.
In his order, Gandhi directed the CBI to provide information sought by Mishra as the application was filed before the agency was brought under the exemption clause. PTI