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karira

CBI again tries to get exemption from RTI Act

Government’s decision to exempt Central Bureau of Investigation from RTI Act is FAIR or UNFAIR?  

46 members have voted

  1. 1. Government’s decision to exempt Central Bureau of Investigation from RTI Act is FAIR or UNFAIR?



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karira

As reported by Maneesh sarin and Ritu Chibber in indianexpress.com on 14 February 2011:

CBI again tries to get exemption from RTI Act

 

CBI again tries to get exemption from RTI Act

 

The CBI has renewed its efforts to be put on the exemption list of the 2005 Right to Information Act, specifically pointing out that the increase in volume of applicants demanding file-notings on closed or chargesheeted cases is threatening its smooth functioning. The CBI’s request comes at a time when the government is trying to further whittle down the list of exempted organisations, which number 22 at present. While the government’s attempt is to restrict the exemption to only intelligence and sensitive organisations, the CBI is reported to have pointed out that even organisations like the Enforcement Directorate and the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau enjoy exemption.

 

The exemption list, inexplicably, still retains central police organisations like the Indo Tibetan Border Police and the Assam Rifles.

 

While it was former CBI director Ashwani Kumar who is understood to have taken up the exemption issue first with the government, his successor, A P Singh, is believed to have recently dispatched a fresh communication to the Department of Personnel and Training on the issue.

 

Sources said the DoPT has already asked the Law Ministry to examine the feasibility of the CBI request.

 

Citing huge demand for file-notings, CBI makes fresh bid to be exempted from RTI Act It is to be recalled that last year — after lengthy correspondence and several hearings between the DoPT and the Central Information Commission — the government finally permitted file notings of all departments/ ministries to be accessed by RTI applicants.

 

This, according to senior CBI officials, is the root cause of its problem.

 

While the 2005 Act explicitly forbids disclosure of information of all cases under investigation, the CBI has been flooded with requests for internal file-notings on cases in which either a closure report has been filed or which have been chargesheeted.

 

Said a senior official, “This is a very dangerous trend since the CBI functions on a single file system where every case file has the opinion of the investigating officer, the agency’s law officers right to the director. Disclosure of the varied, and often conflicting, opinions expressed by its officers is a very serious matter and if allowed, will inhibit them from expressing their opinions on evidence freely on files.”

 

Insiders said that of late, several applications have been received wherein persons listed as accused or put under investigation by the CBI have themselves used the RTI route to find out which specific officers gave written opinions against them. The use of such file notings in court, the CBI has argued, can be a very unhealthy precedent and result in officers being victimised even years after their retirement.

 

Interestingly, the CBI’s demand for getting the coveted exemption from RTI comes at a time when the agency is investigating several politically sensitive cases including the 2G spectrum scam and the bunch of cases linked to the Commonwealth Games. Among the high voltage cases in which the agency recently filed a closure report was the Arushi Talwar double murder case, and top officials argued that disclosure of file notings on the case would only stir up a fresh controversy.

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karira

As reported in news.outlookindia.com on 15 March 2011:

news.outlookindia.com | Keep CBI Out of RTI Purview: Solicitor General

 

Keep CBI Out of RTI Purview: Solicitor General

 

Keeping in mind the safety and security of investigators probing sensitive cases, CBI should be kept out of the purview of the Right to Information Act, a senior Law Officer of the government is understood to have opined.

 

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium is understood to have recommended that CBI be exempted as its officers need to be protected from dangers they may face by putting sensitive details in public domain.

 

Section 24 of the RTI Act, which provides exemption to organisations on security concerns must also apply to CBI, he is believed to have suggested.

 

Subramanium's opinion was based on a reference from the DoPT to the Law Ministry recently.

 

Sources in the government said Subramanium has tried to balance the right to information vis-a-vis the rule of law.

 

CBI had been receiving several requests seeking file notings relating to exchanges between officials related to cases.

 

He has said that for "the time being" it has become essential for CBI to be kept out of RTI purview.

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karira

As reported by Chandrani Banerjee in outlookindia.com

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?271695

 

RTI: CBI EXEMPTION

Telling Escape

 

 

Soon, RTI won’t get info out of the CBI

 

Mirror Turns Opaque

 

CBI proposes an exemption from giving information under RTI

Law ministry gives it green signal based on Gopal Subramanium’s opinion

All it requires is a department of personnel and training (DoPT) notification to get an exemption

Activists fear agencies will use this to deny citizens information

***

 

Will the CBI be allowed not to divulge details under the Right to Information Act? Going by the Union law ministry’s advice, it may soon be exempt from answering queries under RTI. The agency had put up a request in February to the department of personnel and training (DOPT) to this effect. Its plea was forwarded to the law ministry for its opinion.

 

The latter deems that the investigating agency is fit to be allowed exemption under Section 24 of Schedule (2) of the RTI Act, 2005. Solicitor-general Gopal Subramanium, who gave the ministry his opinion on this regard, says, “I have tried to balance it out with the fundamental right to know and accountability. The agency deals with delicate issues and there is certain information that is above the institution and individuals. Therefore, it is appropriate to allow the agency to be out of the RTI ambit. Section 24 of the RTI Act provides special provisions. That has been taken into account.”

 

What is this section 24 of the act? It says that all citizens shall have the right to information on everything except categories involving security, strategic, scientific and economic interests and other classified secrets. The police shall restrict the right to information within the ambit of the maintenance of public order and crime and investigation.

 

Activists say the idea of exempting the CBI from giving information comes at a time when it has already turned down several important RTI queries. The agency recently refused to disclose details on complaints against former CJI K.G. Balakrishnan. The National Human Rights Commission chairperson has been in a controversy over declaration of assets and liabilities. There was increased pressure on him to declare his assets after his son-in-law faced allegations of having assets disproportionate to his known sources of income. He had also acquired properties during Balakrishnan’s tenure as CJI. The CBI has admitted that it received two complaints against Balakrishnan. Its Chennai bureau dismissed one complaint citing “vague and unverifiable” allegations and forwarded the second to the New Delhi office.

 

RTI activist S.C. Agarwal had sought information on complaints against retired judges of the apex and high courts, including former CJIs Y.K. Sabharwal and Balakrishnan. Incidentally, both the law ministry’s department of justice and the CVC have disclosed CBI’s closure report on a complaint against Sabharwal. “The provisions under Section 24 allow disclosing the information sought in cases of corruption. However, investigating agencies have been using it as a shield (by citing security and strategic reasons) for rejecting RTI queries. With the latest move of the law ministry, they will hardly share any information,” says Agarwal.

 

Earlier, the CBI had refused to reveal information on Ottavio Quattrocchi following an RTI application filed by advocate Ajay Agrawal seeking all documents, notings and files pertaining to the defreezing of the businessman and his wife’s accounts in London. The CBI said it would “impede” the prosecution of the accused and went on to close the case subsequently. Agrawal, who has opposed the closure of the case in the apex court and trial court, had also sought all information including advices, opinions and notings of law officers as well as CBI’s officers who allegedly favoured him, leading to the withdrawal of the red corner notice against him in November 2008.

 

Things will only get more opaque if the DOPT notifies the law ministry’s advice. It will make accessing any information from the CBI next to impossible, and will also water down RTI itself.

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karira

As reported by Maneesh Chhibber in indianexpress.com on 15 May 2011:

http://www.indianexpress.com/news/exempt-cbi-from-rti-act-recommends-secys-panel/791038/0

 

Exempt CBI from RTI Act, recommends Secys’ panel

 

Despite objections and words of caution from some members, the Committee of Secretaries (CoS) headed by Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar yesterday cleared the controversial request by the CBI that it should be exempt from providing information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The CoS also approved an earlier reccommendation to keep the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) outside the purview of the RTI Act.

 

During a detailed discussion on the CBI’s request, a minority of members expressed the opinion that acceeding could be viewed as a government move to reduce transparency, sources said. There was a feeling that questions would be asked about the timing of the move — when the CBI is occupied with several politically sensitive cases, including the 2G scam, a CoS member told The Sunday Express.

 

“Somebody may challenge the exemption in the court,” the member said.

 

The CoS recommendation to accept the CBI’s request will now go to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, whose mind on the issue is not known yet, before it is placed before the Cabinet, sources said.

 

CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra said the agency wanted to be exempt from RTI because of the sensitiveness of the cases it is handling and the pressure from a large number of requests for information.

 

“The CBI director is all for transparency, but the agency wants to be exempted because of the cases that it is handling and filing of the large number of RTI applications about cases, which have national and international ramifications,” Mishra said.

 

A similar request by the CBI in 2008 had been turned down by the government.

 

As first reported by The Indian Express, Attorney General Goolam E Vahanvati had opined that if the CBI’s request was accepted, other government departments and investigative agencies could seek a similar exemption.

 

However, Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium had recommended earlier that the CBI should be exempted in the light of the “complex and dangerous situations” in which it works.

 

At the first meeting of the CoS — which includes the secretaries of the ministries of home, law, legislative, personnel and legal affairs as members — on April 25, many members had opposed the CBI demand.

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karira

As reported by Nagender Sharma and Aloke Tikku in hindustantimes.com on 15 May 2011:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Move-to-keep-CBI-out-of-RTI/Article1-697657.aspx

 

Move to keep CBI out of RTI

 

In a controversial move, a top government panel has decided to keep three central agencies — the CBI, NIA and the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) — beyond the purview of the right to information law. A five-member committee of secretaries, headed by the Cabinet Secretary, has asked the government to classify the three as security organizations, which will enable them to block all information requests under the RTI Act.

 

The panel that had rejected the CBI plea for exemption in 2008, reversed its decision after taking legal opinion from the government’s top two law officers.

 

Hindustan Times had first reported on March 15 about solicitor general Gopal Subramanium’s opinion that the CBI should be included in the list of 22 intelligence and security organisations, which are out of RTI purview.

 

He had recommended that “information related to administrative and personnel matters of the CBI could be provided...”

 

Attorney General GE Vahanvati endorsed his colleague’s opinion but went a step further and recommended a blanket exemption for the CBI.

 

The committee of secretaries accepted Vahanvati’s view in its meeting on Friday. It has now recommended the PMO to place the matter before the Cabinet for its approval.

 

The NIA was set up in 2008 after the 26/11 Mumabi terror attacks to handle terrorism-related cases. Natgrid, on the other hand, provides security agencies real-time access into nearly 20 categories of databases — from airline ticketing to phone records.

 

Handling cases that may have implications for national security, however, has been a small part of the CBI’s organisational profile. It is the only agency at the Centre that can investigate corruption or sensational crimes such as the Priyadarshini Mattoo case, in which a Delhi police officer’s son was held guilty for raping and killing her.

 

An application under RTI revealed that the CBI believed life imprisonment — not death — was “proportionate” to the crime. Her family, however, had wanted the CBI to challenge the SC verdict.

 

Once the government issues the notification classifying these organisations under the second schedule of the law, it will become more difficult to get information out of the agency.

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karira

“The CBI director is all for transparency, but the agency wants to be exempted because of the cases that it is handling and filing of the large number of RTI applications about cases, which have national and international ramifications,” Mishra said.

 

This is a specious argument. CBI has to follow the law of the land. It cannot just seek an exemption because the number of applications are large. Who defines what is large ?

 

Sec 24 allows exemption to "intelligence and security organisations". Is CBI a intelligence and security organisation ? It is only a investigative agency.

 

This is what the website of CBI states about its role:

 

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI ) , functioning under Deptt. of Personnel, Ministry of Personnel, Pension & Public Grievances, Government of India, is the premier investigating police agency in India. It is an elite force playing a major role in preservation of values in public life and in ensuring the health of the national economy. It is also the nodal police agency in India which coordinates investigation on behalf of Interpol Member countries.

Over the years CBI has built up an image for professionalism and integrity. The services of its investigating officers are sought for all major investigations in the country. CBI as an organisation is held in high esteem by the Supreme Court, the High Courts, the Parliament and the public. The CBI has to investigate major crimes in the country having interstate and international ramifications. It is also involved in collection of criminal intelligence pertaining to three of its main areas of operation, viz., Anti-Corruption, Economic Crimes and Special Crimes.

The Anti-Corruption Division of the CBI has handled cases against Chief Ministers, Ministers, Secretaries to Government, Officers of the All India Services, CMDs of Banks, Financial Institutions, Public Sector Undertakings, etc.

CBI investigations have a major impact on the political and economic life of the nation. The following broad categories of criminal cases are handled by the CBI:

Cases of corruption and fraud committed by public servants of all Central Govt. Departments, Central Public Sector Undertakings and Central Financial Institutions.

Economic crimes, including bank frauds, financial frauds, Import Export & Foreign Exchange violations, large-scale smuggling of narcotics, antiques, cultural property and smuggling of other contraband items etc.

Special Crimes, such as cases of terrorism, bomb blasts, sensational homicides, kidnapping for ransom and crimes committed by the mafia/the underworld.

 

Cannot see any role in "intelligence or security" in the above.

 

====

 

Members will also recall that the Tamil Nadu Government had also decided to exempt the Directorate of Vigilance and Anti Corruption from the RTI Act.

The Madras HC had decided on the matter after various twists and turns. Please read the full thread here:

 

http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/7276-vigilance-bodies-out-rti-act-purview.html

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karira

An interview in tehelka.com:

http://tehelka.com/story_main49.asp?filename=Ne040611incoldblood.asp

 

'For the CBI, exemption from RTI is not a done deal’

 

Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar tells Shonali Ghosal that intelligence agencies need to keep secrets for security reasons

 

Why did the Committee of Secretaries under you recommend exemption from RTI for CBI, Natgrid and NIA?

The basic issue is that releasing information to the public should not jeopardise the agency’s working. The CBI is dealing with so many cases and the information has ramifications not only within the country but also abroad.

 

But doesn’t the RTI already have provisions that restrict sensitive information from being disclosed to the public?

Not only the CBI, this issue also concerns Natgrid and NIA. We have found inter-linkages. For example, when you are undertaking a probe, you may have to travel. If such information is disclosed and places of travel are linked up, the entire probe could be jeopardised.

 

Is there any criteria to determine such exemptions?

Yes, there is a set procedure and criteria on the basis of which a collective view is taken. But that doesn’t mean that it (exemption decision) will go through. This is only one stage where advice is taken, where we look at it collectively and see if the particular agency satisfies the criteria for inclusion in the second schedule.

 

Did the CBI provide any grounds for such an exemption?

Yes, the agency has to present documents to support its case. These are checked by the Department of Personnel and Training before forwarding the request to the Cabinet Secretariat, which convenes a meeting of the secretaries. The law ministry’s opinion is also taken.

 

Have any of these three agencies presented any specific cases where the RTI has obstructed their functioning or posed a problem as such?

I don’t recall the details but they did mention some cases and the need for protecting security-related information.

 

There is also an argument that these are intelligence agencies and not security agencies.

Intelligence and security are inter-related. The security of any establishment or the government is linked to a great extent to the intelligence that is generated. So we cannot separate intelligence and security in that way.

 

Are the parameters the same for both agencies?

Yes, that’s because whatever intelligence has a bearing on security will necessarily have to be sort of protected so that the national interests can be protected.

 

Some reports suggest that there is opposition from within the government to this move.

No, there was no opposition at all. There was only one question raised by a member regarding the Attorney General’s report where the member wanted a clarification, but it was cleared.

 

You say that the clearance has only crossed the first stage. So how many stages are there?

It has to be examined at various levels. There will be many more discussions at the ministerial and the prime minister’s levels. These views will be taken into account.

 

So you cannot specify any timeframe?

No, there is no timeframe for this. A decision can be taken only when everybody is fully satisfied.

 

Won’t such exemptions trigger similar demands from others?

Only when the security of the country or when any material that relates to the security of the country is involved, will we take such decisions.

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jps50

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/govt-decides-to-keep-cbi-outside-rti-purview/articleshow/8808804.cms

 

The Economic Times

 

11 JUN, 2011, 03.27AM IST, DEVESH KUMAR,ET BUREAU

 

Govt decides to keep CBI outside RTI purview

 

 

Read more on »UPA government| Right To Information Act|CBI

 

 

NEW DELHI: In a decision that is certain to generate a lot of heat, the Manmohan Singh government has exempted the CBI, the country's premier investigating agency, from providing information under the Right to Information Act . A notification to this effect was issued by the government on Thursday after the proposal got the Union Cabinet's green signal, placing the agency among a select category of institutions that have been kept outside the RTI's purview. But it is certain to invite a lot of criticism from the growing band of RTI activists, who have been raising the pitch for greater transparency in the government's decision-making process.

 

The development comes at a time when there is growing restiveness among the people over corruption in high places, and the government's failure to rein it in. The move to exempt CBI from the RTI Act is certain to add to this cynicism. It could also invite scrutiny from the judiciary. The CBI, on its part, argues that it was, in most instances, being forced to part with information on sensitive cases which were in the process of being probed. Disclosing information in such cases tends to undermine their investigation.

 

The exempt-CBI-from-RTI notification was in keeping with the recommendation made by a committee of secretaries (CoS) last month. The panel, which was headed by Cabinet Secretary KM Chandrasekhar had on May 14 given the go-ahead to the CBI's request that it should be exempt from providing information under the RTI Act.

 

The CoS argued that the CBI was dealing with so many cases and the information has ramifications not only within the country, but also abroad. The CoS had also given its approval to an earlier recommendation to keep the National Investigation Agency (NIA) and National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID) outside the purview of the RTI Act.

 

During a detailed discussion on the CBI's request, a section of the CoS had warned that giving in to the CBI's request could be viewed as a government move to reduce transparency. There was a perception that questions would be asked about the timing of the move - when the CBI is occupied with several politically sensitive cases, including the 2G, Adarsh Housing Society and CWG scams.

 

CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra had on an earlier occasion said the agency wanted to be exempt from RTI because of the sensitiveness of the cases it is handling and the pressure from a large number of requests for information.

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karira

There are several high profile cases where CIC recently asked CBI to disclose information:

 

1. Why Ambanis were not made co-accused by CBI in the illegal routing of international call case

2. Disclosure of information regarding investigations made on investments by various state government undertakings

3. Investigation details on Sant Singh Chatwal

 

I wonder what will happen to those orders, now that this new notification has been passed?

 

Is it that this notification was rushed through to prevent disclosure of information in these cases as well as those pending cases which are coming up in the CIC in near future ?

CBI-ambani.pdf

CBI-financial scam.pdf

CBI-Sant_Singh_Chatwal.pdf

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karira

And most importantly, what happens now to my RTI application filed with DoPT:

 

 

Date: 09 May 2011

Dear Sir/Madam,

 

RE: Request for information under Sec 6(1) of the RTI Act 2005

 

I, Mr. C.J. Karira, a citizen of India, request you to provide me the following information under the RTI Act 2005:

 

SUBJECT MATTER OF INFORMATION:

Exemption sought by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the RTI Act 2005 and all related matters.

 

PERIOD FOR WHICH INFORMATION SOUGHT:

From 1st June 2004 till 10th May 2011

 

INFORMATION SOUGHT:

 

1. A certified “Index” of all information and records, related to the above subject matter and maintained in your public authority

 

2. A certified “Catalogue” of all information and records, related to the above subject matter and maintained in your public authority

 

3. Certified copies of all “information” and “records”, related to the above subject matter

 

NOTE: “Information” and “Record” are defined in Sec 2(f) and 2(i) of the RTI Act 2005

 

Please find enclosed IPO Nr. 94E 927113 dated 9th May 2011, for Rs. 10/-, towards payment of application fee for this RTI application.

 

Thanking You,

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an32

Please refer to following url provided below-

 

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/CBI-exempted-from-RTI-Act/articleshow/8807719.cms

 

It seem that the government is trying to scuttle the shoddy exposure of corruption cases and attempt by CBI to protect the corrupts as demonstrated by case of The New Indian Express publishing a series of reports on how Maran had subverted the telecom resources to serve his personal interests based on the investigation reports submitted by CBI under the RTI.

 

It is nothing but attempt by government to protect corrupt elements.Police and other Deptartments will also request for such immunity. This will damage the very purpose of the RTI.

 

Lets us protest to the government against this decision ask them to reverse the same

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jetley

As on the date of submission of your application, and also during the prescribed time limit for getting the information, you were entitled to get it in accordance with the provisions of the Act, and so it should be disclosed to you. The notification that came later may not have a retrospective effect

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jetley

Your case may even be good for filing under CPA. The judiciary may not be so impressed with the ground for denial of information to you

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karira

As reported by Mayank Aggarwal in dnaindia.com on 14 June 2011:

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_civil-society-objects-to-keeping-cbi-out-of-rti_1554737

 

Civil society objects to keeping CBI out of RTI

 

The Congress-led government last week exempted CBI from providing information sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The move has not gone down well with civil society activists who are not only terming the move as “illegal” but are also thinking of challenging it.

 

“It is not only wrong but also illegal. It’s written in the RTI act that only intelligence or security agencies can be exempted but CBI is neither of that. CBI is a kind of police force. We are thinking of challenging it,” Shekhar Singh of National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) told DNA.

 

NCPRI was instrumental in the act’s formulation. Singh said: “The RTI Act already has provisions of exempting information which can pose problem in investigation or creates problem for CBI’s source. So this step is totally wrong.

 

Advocate Prashant Bhushan, who is already part of the Lokpal bill movement, also criticized the move.

 

“The move is a retrograde step. It seems the step is taken to stop sensitive information coming out about important cases handled by CBI where investigation has been completed. The act already has provisions for exempting information if its disclosure impedes investigation,” Bhushan told DNA.

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Hossain

The Govt, has exempted the CBI from providing information under the Right to Information Act. A notification to this effect has reportedly been issued.

 

http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2011-06-11/news/29647212_1_rti-act-cbi-information-act

 

As of now, unfortunately no heat has been generated by the RTI activists so far.

I have certain queries in this regard

1. Where can one find the notification exempting CBI.

2. What will be the fate of the RTI application/ 1st Appeal/ 2nd Appeal, filed with/against CBI, prior to issuance of such notification.

3. Will ACB, CBI, which deals exclusively with corruption related cases, fall under such exemption.

 

I invite members to discuss the issue in the present context, when the CBI is investigating number of corruption cases against ministers/high officials.

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ganpat1956

Post # 15 raised as a separate thread stands merged here.

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karira

As reported by K P M Basheer in hindu.com on 17 June 2011:

http://www.hindu.com/2011/06/17/stories/2011061754460700.htm

 

Immunity to CBI irks RTI activists, authorities

 

 

Siby Mathews finds CBI exemption unnecessary

Centre went by the decision of panel of Secretaries

Difficult to share information of sensitive cases: CBI

 

KOCHI: The Central government's decision to exempt the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act has been criticised by RTI activists.

 

‘‘Exemption of the CBI from the RTI Act is illegal,'' Arvind Kejriwal, pioneering campaigner for people's right to information, told The Hindu.

 

The Union Cabinet took the decision on Thursday based on the recommendation of a Committee of Secretaries.

 

The CBI had taken the position that since it mostly investigated sensitive case, it was ‘‘difficult to share information.''

 

Civil society organisations and RTI activists had then pointed out that under Section 24 of the Act, only intelligence and security agencies could claim immunity from providing information; the CBI was neither an intelligence agency nor a security agency.

 

D.B. Binu, general secretary of the RTI Kerala Federation, says the RTI Act insists that information that will disrupt investigation, arrest or prosecution by an agency shall not be provided to the public.

 

That being so, the government's contention that the measure is intended to help the CBI continue its work is unacceptable. He says his organisation will move court against the decision.

 

Crime Branch

 

Kerala's Chief Information Commissioner Siby Mathews feels that there is no need for a blanket exemption for the CBI.

 

He points out that Section 8(1)h of the Act gives an investigation agency the right to deny information regarding a case under investigation.

 

Mr. Mathews told The Hindu that there will be no problem if an investigation agency gives out information regarding a case where a charge sheet has been filed in a court. ‘‘A charge sheet is a public document that is filed before court after investigation,'' he says. ‘‘I don't find any problem in the CBI giving out the details of such a case.''

 

Mr. Mathews says the Kerala government has put the Crime Branch on the exempted list. ‘‘I don't think it is correct,'' he said. ‘‘There is no need for fully exempting the Crime Branch from the purview of the RTI Act.''

 

Unnoticed exemption

 

The exemption had gone unnoticed and no one had moved court against the decision at the time.

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Hossain

Can anybody reply the queries at post #15 please.

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karira

1. Where can one find the notification exempting CBI.

2. What will be the fate of the RTI application/ 1st Appeal/ 2nd Appeal, filed with/against CBI, prior to issuance of such notification.

3. Will ACB, CBI, which deals exclusively with corruption related cases, fall under such exemption.

 

1. Still not available on the DoPT website

2. This similar issue came up when DGIT was exempted under RTI. At that time CIC had ruled that all pending RTI

applications/appeals/etc. will be closed even if they were filed before the actual date of notification.

CBI has already started closing applications/appeals. Please see the news article below.

3. Each agency has to separately seek exemption under Sec 24. In this notification only CBI has been exempted.

ACB is under the State Government, so notification (if any) will be from the state government.

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karira

As reported by Chetan Chauhan in hindustantimes.com on 18 June 2011:

http://www.hindustantimes.com/Decision-to-keep-CBI-out-of-RTI-is-illegal-illegitimate/Article1-711073.aspx

 

‘Decision to keep CBI out of RTI is illegal, illegitimate’

 

The government’s decision to exempt the CBI from the RTI Act has been termed as “illegal and illegitimate” by civil society activists. On Saturday, the members — Team Anna and the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) — lambasted the move, saying it revealed the government’s true colours on the transparency issue.

 

“It only serves the government’s purpose to keep the CBI corrupt, opaque and thus pliant. As long as the CBI remains within the control of the government, we cannot expect any systemic changes to be introduced,” said team Anna member Arvind Kejriwal.

 

A statement signed by Aruna Roy and prominent RTI activists, on behalf of NCPRI, said the government was mandated by law to exempt only intelligence gathering or security related agencies from the Act.

 

Civil society members across the country also felt that the Cabinet decision will open a Pandora’s Box with state governments exempting its local investigating agencies from the purview of the law.

 

Tamil Nadu has already kept its anti-corruption department and the state Vigilance Commission outside the purview of the Act. “Others will know follow suit,” the statement said.

 

What has angered the activists is that the government hurriedly agreed with the CBI’s proposal for exemption without any public debate at a time when the agency is investigating high profile cases such as the CWG and 2G scams.

 

The CBI said the RTI law was putting their officers at risk by exposing their identity.

 

“Suppose we start providing all this information, any official will think twice before writing his opinion about any case as the affected party can drag him to court,” said a senior CBI official.

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karira

As reported in economictimes.indiatimes.com on 19 June 2011:

http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/news/politics/nation/cbi-rejects-rti-applications-no-info-on-corruption/articleshow/8913067.cms

 

CBI rejects RTI applications; no info on corruption

 

NEW DELHI: Citing recent exemption given to it by the government, the CBI has refused to make public information about disproportionate asset cases against government servants, including bureaucrats and ministers.

 

The Centre through a notification issued on June 9 placed the agency in the organisations listed in the second schedule of the Section 24 of the RTI Act which also comprises intelligence and security agencies.

 

The exemption granted to agencies listed in the second schedule does not give blanket immunity from making disclosures under the transparency law as the Act states that information on "allegations" of corruption and human rights violation is to be disclosed even by these organisations.

 

Ironically, the CBI officials feel that by placing them under second schedule organisation, they have got blanket cover from making any disclosure as it was evident from the reply given to activist S C Agrawal by the agency.

 

"The Government of India ...has placed the Central Bureau of Investigation at Serial Number 23 of the second schedule of the Right to Information Act, this act is not applicable to the Central Bureau of Investigation," CBI joint director Prabodh Kumar replied.

 

Agrawal had filed four RTI applications, three months before CBI got exemption, seeking details of corruption cases accusing officials and ministers of amassing disproportionate assets.

 

The questions asked by him pertained to recoveries done by the agency from accused and fine slapped on corrupt officials on the orders of courts.

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Hossain

ACB is under the State Government, so notification (if any) will be from the state government.

 

ACB is the Anti Corruption Branch of CBI and is not under State Govt.

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karira

ACB - also stands for Anti Corruption Bureau which is under each State Government.

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karira

As reported in ndtv.com on 20 June 2011:

http://www.ndtv.com/article/india/government-defends-cbis-exemption-from-rti-cites-national-security-113615

 

Government defends CBI's exemption from RTI, cites national security

 

 

 

New Delhi: The Government says it is working for a tough anti-corruption body through the Lokpal Bill. But it is now defending its action of shielding the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the Right to Information (RTI) Act. "The CBI is investigating various matters which involve national security. Therefore base on the opinion given to us by the Attorney General, we have done it (exempted the CBI)," V Narayanaswamy, Minister in the Prime Minister's Office, told NDTV on Monday.

 

The CBI has refused to make public, the information about disproportionate asset cases against government servants, including bureaucrats and ministers. The Centre, through a notification issued on June 9, had placed the agency in the organisations listed in the second schedule of Section 24 of the RTI Act, which also comprises of intelligence and security agencies. "The Government of India...has placed the Central Bureau of Investigation at Serial Number 23 of the second schedule of the Right to Information Act, this act is not applicable to the Central Bureau of Investigation," CBI joint director Prabodh Kumar said in reply to an RTI application filed by activist SC Agarwal.

 

Mr Agrawal had filed four RTI applications, three months before CBI got exemption, seeking details of corruption cases accusing officials and ministers of amassing disproportionate assets. The questions asked by him pertained to recoveries done by the agency from the accused and fine slapped on corrupt officials on the orders of courts.

 

The Central Public Information Officer of the agency refused to provide information, saying it was "voluminous".

 

In his appeal before the Central Information Commission, Mr Agrawal pleaded that since his petition and first appeal were filed prior to date of notification exempting CBI, provisions of the said notification should not be applicable to his case. "Even otherwise, section 24 of RTI Act clearly stipulates that information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violation shall be provided even if some organisations are placed in second schedule of RTI Act," Mr Agarwal said.

 

Former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has criticised the CBI's stand. "Exempting CBI would amount to misapplication of Section 24 of the RTI Act much against the intention of Parliament, and militating against a primary objective of the Act, which as stated in the Objects and Reasons is 'to contain corruption'," Mr Habibullah said. The former Chief Information Commissioner who demitted office on September 30 last year said apprehensions cited in some quarters that through RTI Act CBI could be "compelled" to give sensitive information about probe cases, and reveal identity of crucial witness, are "mistaken" as section 8 of the RTI Act provides safeguards against such information.

 

CBI sources told PTI that the provisions of section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005 gives case-to-case basis of application of exemption. However, they said it is not possible to decide in such a fashion on secrecy of individual documents or pieces of information. "Seemingly innocuous or unobjectionable" pieces of information might seem harmless but when placed in conjunction with each other, the "mosaic of a dangerous picture" affecting the security of the nation can emerge, they said. (With PTI inputs)

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karira

As reported in dnaindia.com on 20 June 2011:

http://www.dnaindia.com/india/report_cbi-under-rti-will-prevent-misuse_1557208

 

'CBI under RTI will prevent misuse'

 

Wajahat Habibullah, the first chief information commissioner (CIC), threw his weight behind the opposition to the decision to exempt CBI from RTI act, telling Prime Minister Manmohan Singh it could be "counter-productive" in the light of prevalent mood against corruption.

 

The CBI on its part said the country's premier investigating agency will ensure that the exemption now provided is "not misused".

 

The government through a June 9 notification brought CBI under the list of organisation in second schedule of Section 24 of the Right to Information (RTI) that will exempt the agency from providing information sought under the transparency law.

 

In a letter to the prime minister, Habibullah, now the chairperson of the National Commission for Minorities, said CBI does not collect intelligence or perform security related duties and does not "fit" the criteria laid down for organisations, listed under second schedule of Section 24 of the transparency law, which are exempted from disclosing information under the Act.

 

"Given the public mood around the country against corruption, exempting the CBI could be counter-productive. The same might be said for exempting others such as National Investigation Agency (NIA) which also perform investigative functions," the former chief information commissioner said in this three-page letter.

 

The CBI sources said today one of the reasons for seeking exemption was some orders passed by the Central Information Commission have adversely affected ongoing investigation and trial of the cases. However, they did not elaborate about the orders and their impact on the cases.

 

The government decision has come under attack from various civil society groups including the Anna Hazare camp involved in drafting Lokpal bill for an anti-corruption ombudsman.

 

The CBI is now exempted from any disclosure under the transparency law except those pertaining to "allegations" of corruption and human rights violations.

 

Habibullah said the Standing Committee of Parliament on Personnel, Public Grievances, Law and Justice, which vetted the RTI bill in 2004-05, observed in the Section 24 was intended "solely for agencies involved in duties relating to national security and maintenance of law and order."

 

"Exempting CBI would amount to misapplication of Section 24 of the RTI Act much against the intention of Parliament, and militating against a primary objective of the Act, which as stated in the Objects and Reasons is 'to contain corruption'," he said.

 

The former chief information commissioner who demitted office on September 30 last year said apprehensions cited in some quarters that through RTI Act CBI could be "compelled" to give sensitive information about probe cases, and reveal identity of crucial witness, are "mistaken" as section 8 of the RTI Act provides safeguards against such information.

 

"Transparency in the functioning of the CBI within the limits prescribed by the law is the most desirable means for ensuring its accountability, and this was wholeheartedly the view of the Director Vijay Shanker when the Act came into force," he said.

 

Habibullah said CBI investigates allegations of corruption in government and PSU offices which cannot be exempted from disclosure under the first proviso of the very clause of Section 24 in which CBI has now been listed.

 

CBI sources said the provisions of section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005 gives case-to-case basis of application of exemption. However, they said it is not possible to decide in such a fashion on secrecy of individual documents or pieces of information.

 

"Seemingly innocuous or unobjectionable" pieces of information might seem harmless but when placed in conjunction with each other, the "mosaic of a dangerous picture" affecting the security of the nation can emerge, they said.

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