The Right To Information (RTI) Act may help unveil the mystery behind the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC) proposing and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) disposing in the Rs 1,300 crore HUDCO scam.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) this week directed the CBI to provide its inquiry report on closing investigation in four cases, where the CVC had found “adequate evidence of paying bribes” to mobilize funds from the Housing and Urban Development Corporation (HUDCO) in 2006.
The CBI closed the case saying there was inadequate evidence to take the investigations further. Its view had resulted in the housing and urban development ministry submitting a closure report in Supreme Court in 2007.
The corporation had invested Rs 950 crore in West Bengal Infrastructure Development Finance, Rs 200 crore in Himachal Pradesh Infrastructure Development Board and Rs 150 crore in Vidharbha Irrigation Development Corporation and there were allegations of bribery to get funds from HUDCO.
“It appears that CVC found clear evidence showing bribes have been taken. However, the CBI and the (Housing and Urban Development) ministry have come to the conclusion there is no wrong doing. If the corruption is to be curtailed and the government and its instrumentalities are to be held accountable, citizens need to get information of this nature,” information commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said.
The CBI’s information officer Pradeep Kumar had refused to provide information to RTI applicant A N Gupta of Noida, on the grounds that the investigation report was privileged and confidential and hence exempted from disclosure. The investigations were closed in 2007 and the Supreme Court was informed about it.
Gandhi said the information officer had wrongly applied the exemption clauses, saying that “mere fears without any justification cannot be a ground for denying the citizen’s fundamental right. The commission also said the Kumar had failed to justify reasons for denying information as stipulated in the Right To Information Act.
“The commission has come to the conclusion that none of the exemptions would apply to the information sought by the appellant. Even if the exemptions apply, this is a fit case where larger public interest would outweigh the harm to any protected interest,” the order issued on Friday said.