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Why Exempt CBI from RTI, Asks Petition

Why Exempt CBI from RTI, Asks Petition

A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court for an early hearing of a petition challenging a 2011 government notification, which includes the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the list of “intelligence and security organisations” exempted from disclosing information to the public under the Right to Information Act.

Counsel Ajay Agrawal, in his petition, said the June 9, 2011 notification including the CBI in the Second Schedule of the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005 was arbitrary, especially when the organisation was only an investigating agency and not a security or intelligence organisation.

The fresh application, filed earlier this month, for an advanced hearing in the case alleged that the notification was “solely to scuttle the RTI appeal pending before the Chief Information Commissioner, New Delhi, in regard to the Bofors-Quattrocchi case in which order was passed by the Central Information Commission directing the CBI to provide the requisite papers to the petitioner [Mr. Agrawal]”.

Mr. Agrawal, who has been pursuing the Bofors payoff case for years, contended that “by issuing the notification and placing the CBI in the Second Schedule, the government appears to be claiming absolute secrecy for the CBI without the sanction of the law.”

“The RTI Act was a promise to the citizens by Parliament for transparency and accountability … It is incumbent on the government to provide the reasons for constricting the citizen’s fundamental right to information,” the petition contended.

‘Deep impact’

“Such an administrative decision has a profound impact on the citizens of India inasmuch as it restricts their fundamental right to information … By this method the government could keep adding organisations to the Second Schedule, which do not meet the express criteria laid down in Section 24(2) of the RTI Act and ultimately render the RTI Act ineffective,” the application said.

This case had been transferred from the Delhi High Court to the apex court following the government’s claim of multiplicity of such petitions in several High Courts.

Source: The Hindu

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