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Monday, February 18, 2013

CBI claims exemption from disclosing corruption info under RTI

NEW DELHI: CBI has approached the Delhi High Court claiming protection from disclosure of information held by it on allegations of corruption under the Right to Information Act.

The CBI's move to approach the Delhi High Court came on a Central Information Commission decision allowing RTI plea of activist C J Karira who had sought information related to status of sanction for prosecution against public servants facing allegations of corruption during 2007-11.

Ironically, the information which CBI wanted to withhold on this RTI plea has been disclosed by Ministry of Personnel in a number of responses to Parliament members.

The court of Justice Rajiv Shakdher has stayed the CIC order and fixed the matter on April 3.

In 2011, the central government brought CBI which was probing several high profile corruption cases including 2G scam case, CWG case, illegal mining case, Adarsh Housing Society scam, under the schedule of organisations exempted from making disclosure under the RTI Act.

According to Section 24 (1) of the RTI Act, under which exempted organisations have been listed, "the information" (defined as any material in any form held by or under the control of a public authority) pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights do not enjoy the cover.

In one of the cases cited by CBI itself in its plea before the High Court, the CIC had directed the DRI (an exempted organisation) to disclose information related to allegations of corruption.

A full bench of the CIC had also directed Enforcement Directorate to disclose information related to black money as it was considered to be a case of alleged corruption.

In its plea before the High Court, CBI has claimed that provision of allegations of corruption is only applicable when it is against its employees and not all the information held by or under its control.

The contention of the agency, facing criticism from political parties and social activists for poor record in high profile corruption cases, has been rejected by CIC, activists and Information Commissioners. 
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