The Madras high court on Friday dismissed a petition challenging exemption to CBI from the purview of RTI and declared that it was indeed a security as well as an intelligence agency and if it was made to disclose information then it could jeopardize not only the outcome of a case but also could damage public safety and national security.
The Madras high court bench comprising chief justice M Y Eqbal and justice T S Sivagnanam rejected the PIL filed by activist-lawyer Vijayalakshmi, who challenged the June 9 notification of the central government exempting the CBI from Central Act 22 of 2005 (Right To Information Act).
In a detailed 45 page order, the Bench said as the CBI was handling many sensitive cases collection of intelligence and the process of investigation and trial were intertwined and could not be separated. Disclosure under RTI might lead to targeting of some officers, the bench felt.
The petitioner, however, maintained that the high court had not appreciated the facts and reasons professed for the objections. “Once we get the certified court order, we will study and file review petition, within a week,” said Manikandan Vathan Chettiar, advocate for petitioner Vijaylakshmi.
The high court maintained that, “information with regard to modus operandi and sources, which are an essential part of investigation by CBI, are very important and any disclosure of such information may not only jeopardize the functioning of CBI in future investigations but also public safety and national security.”
The two-member bench noted CBI submission that its functioning was being affected due to various difficulties due to exposure to queries under the RTI Act. ''Due to RTI queries being posed, the officers of CBI would be
deterred from recording their views on the files fearlessly and
The bench said admittedly there was no allegation with regard to the decision making process or that there was any arbitrariness in the procedure adopted so as to offend Article 14 of the Constitution. The additional solicitor general had stated that the notification has been placed before both Houses of Parliament and would be taken up for consideration in the ensuing Session.
''In view of the above, we hold that the impugned Notification is neither ultra vires section 24 of the RTI Act nor violative of the provisions of the Constitution'', the Bench said and dismissed the petition.