The Central Information Commission has described the Central government’s decision to exempt the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the Right To Information (RTI) Act “not in consonance with law as it constricts the citizens fundamental right as in a manner not sanctioned by the RTI law”.
The stinging remark came in an order related to the CBI refusing to provide information related to investigation in Ghaziabad’s civil court provident fund scam.
The CBI had absolved Supreme Court and high court judges of any wrong doing and had submitted a chargesheet against some district judges. Main accused turn approver Ashutosh Asthana had died in police custody during investigation.
One of the accused Justice (retired) RN Mishra of Allahabad had filed an RTI application with the CBI seeking details of the investigation. The CBI refused information saying it will provide vital information in confidence during investigation of the case.
Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi asked the CBI to provide information after deleting the names of the officers involved in investigations after ruling the government’s order of exempting the CBI from RTI purview was not as per law.
“The CBI is not an intelligence or a security organization which requirement needs to be satisfied in order for it to be covered under section 24 of the RTI Act and therefore, it cannot be included in the second schedule,” Gandhi said in his order. The section 24 provides for exempting intelligence and security agencies from purview of the RTI Act.
The CIC also said that the Department of Personnel and Training, which issued the notification to exempt CBI from RTI on 9 June does not provide reasons to justify the same. “In absence of reasons, inclusion of CBI in the second scheduled along with National Intelligence Agency and National Intelligence Grid appears to be an arbitrary act,” he said, while terming the government’s notification not in consonance with law.
The CIC’s observation comes at the time civil society activists such as Aruna Roy had taken up the issue of exempting CBI with the Sonia Gandhi headed National Advisory Council. The RTI activists had claimed that the CBI was exempted without conducting any public debate on merits and demerits of the move.
The CIC amply made its anguish against the government decision clear by saying that inclusion of CBI in the second schedule would be considered to be a step to avoid gaze and monitoring by citizens in matter of corruption. The CBI is investigating the CWG and the 2G scams.