RTI and Corruption- Obtaining information from Exempted organisations

RTI and Corruption

RTI and Corruption in Government

The true intention of having Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act is to bring even the exempted intelligence and security organizations as specified in Second Schedule of the RTI Act within the scope and ambit of the RTI Act so far as allegations of corruption supported with cogent and reasonable legal evidence are concerned. Obtaining information under RTI for corruption issued from Exempt organisation may require a different approach.

Right to Information Act 2005 Section 24. reads as “Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government:

Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:
Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in section 7, such information shall be provided within forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request.”

RTI and Corruption

From the above clause it is clear that information by RTI and Corruption and Human Rights issues can only be obtained if following conditions are met:

  1. cogent and reasonable legal evidence to prove the corruption and Human Rights have been affected.
  2. Presentation before the CIC directly
  3. CIC directing the CPIO to disclose such information.

In most cases corruption cannot be established inside the Exempt organisations by an RTI Applicant. In such case following procedure is of relevance.

According to the Black’s Law Dictionary (West 9th ed. 2009 on p.86), the word “Allegation” has been defined as “1. The act of declaring something to be true. 2.Something declared or asserted as a matter of fact, esp. in a legal pleading; a party’s formal statement of a factual matter as being true or provable, without its having yet been proved.” Thus, an allegation is clearly different from “Conjecture” which has been defined (on p.343) as a guess, supposition or surmise. The true intention of having Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act is to bring even the exempted intelligence and security organizations as specified in Second Schedule of the RTI Act within the scope and ambit of the RTI Act so far as allegations of corruption supported with cogent and reasonable legal evidence are concerned. Even being an exempt organization under Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act, it is nevertheless the duty of the organisation as an intelligence and security organization, to inquire into the allegations made by the complainant . Not discharging its duty would tantamount to ‘Nonfeasance’, i.e. the omission of acts which a man was by law bound to do. The following excerpt from the Judgment of Division Bench of the Hon’ble Gujarat High Court in Union of India (UOI) and Ors. Vs. V. Shankaran and Anr. [2008 (4) GLT 885] is of relevance here:

25. […]”Official misconduct” defines in Black’s Law Dictionary (7th Edition) as a public officer’s corrupt violation of assigned duties by malfeasance; misfeasance; or nonfeasance, which is also termed as misconduct in office; misbehaviour in office; malconduct in office; misdemeanour in office; corruption in office and official corruption.

Thus, if the organisation simply refuses to take cognizance of allegations which are clearly based on reasonably sound legal evidence and omits to probe into such allegations when it was lawfully bound to do so, then such nonfeasance clearly amounts to an act of Corruption. If the nonfeasance results in allowing some from being brought to justice, then it will amount to corrupt practice on part of organisation.

Thus, in such case it squarely attract the Proviso (I) to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act and the information sought by the Appellant clearly relates to such information which pertains to allegation of corruption.

The above abstracts have been taken from the decision of the CIC in the appeal No.CIC/WB/A/2010/000341/SS

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One comment on “RTI and Corruption- Obtaining information from Exempted organisations
  1. R K Mishra says:

    An excellent interpretation indeed.

    If one goes through all the decisions of IC SS concerning exempted organisations, the lines for ‘ALLEGATIONS of corruption’ may be found just copy-pasted.

    The same thing happened to me & the following quotations are common for all the appellants.

    http://www.rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_SS_A_2012_001162_M_86206.pdf

    “…. the respondent
    is an exempted organization listed under Schedule II of the RTI Act and
    therefore, is not amenable to any provision contained in the RTI Act by virtue of
    Section 24 of the RTI Act. Furthermore, the information sought by the appellant
    does not pertain to any violation of human rights and allegation of corruption, and
    therefore, does not fall under Proviso (I) to Section 24 of the RTI Act. It has to be
    appreciated that ‘allegation of corruption’ does not mean mere conjectures and
    surmises. Allegations ought to be supported by cogent and sound evidence
    which can lead the Commission to frame a prima facie view about corrupt or
    malpractices being involved in any given case. Such element is clearly missing in
    the instant appeal as no evidence or material has been placed by the appellant
    before the Commission so as to establish prima facie case of corruption. Even
    anything to reasonably support the violation of human right is also absent in the
    appeal preferred by the appellant before the Commission.”

    Now, let’s see the section:

    “24. (1) Nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the INTELLIGENCE and SECURITY
    organisations ………….
    Provided that the information pertaining to the ALLEGATIONS of corruption and human
    rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:
    ……violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of
    the Central Information Commission, …..….forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request.”

    The legislators intended to include certain exempted organizations as in Sch-II, so that the INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY of our country is not compromised in any manner.

    This is the reason, information from those organisations can only be obtained after approval of Information commission u/s section 24 of the Act.

    The IC should look after the INTELLIGENCE & SECURITY aspect of the requested information, by carefully examining the ALLEGATIONS (not proof) of human right & corruption involved in it. Before the order,
    The IC may him/herself examine the records to confirm the above issues.

    The act clearly utters that the appellant NEED NOT to prove delinquency; but in respect of the ALLEGATIONS, the IC must approve for disclosure.

    Common citizens are not like detective Karamchand, who can arrange “cogent evidence” before applying for information.
    Through RTI only, common citizen can expose ‘corruption/human right violation’ issue involved in an organisation.
    To obtain information on the same issue, why should a common citizen file time consuming RTI (till IC’s approval), if already s/he has EVIDENCE?

    R K Mishra

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