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CBI can't take refuge in exemption clause under RTI Act to deny info: CIC

CBI cant take refuge in exemption clause under RTI Act to deny info: CIC

New Delhi: The CBI cannot take refuge in the exemption clause under the Right to Information (RTI) Act to deny information related to corruption cases, the CIC has said.

Hearing a case filed by whistleblower bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi, the transparency watchdog said the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) has "grossly erred" in invoking the veil of Section 24 of the RTI Act mechanically without assessing the nature of information sought and the same is viewed adversely by the commission.

Section 24 of the RTI Act exempts certain intelligence and security organisations from the ambit of the transparency law except for information "pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations".

Citing a verdict by the Delhi High Court as well as on the basis of proceedings during the hearing, the Commission is convinced regarding the "allegation of corruption" in the instant matter and the respondent cannot take refuge in Section 24 of the RTI Act for denying information, Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said.

"Keeping in view the totality of circumstances discussed above, the Commission directs the CPIO to provide information as sought in the RTI application to the appellant free of cost within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order," Sinha said in a recent order.

Chaturvedi had sought certified copies of all the file noting/documents/ correspondences related to the investigation done by the CBI on the basis of corruption complaints at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) here.

He had inquired about these corruption cases during his tenure as the chief vigilance officer (CVO), who acts as a distant arm of the Central Vigilance Commission to deal with corruption cases, during July 2012 to August 2014, at AIIMS, Delhi. Chaturvedi had then forwarded these corruption cases to the CBI, seeking an investigation.

The CPIO of CBI, mandated under the transparency act to deal with RTI applications and is the first appellate authority, denied the information, claiming an exemption under Section 24 of the RTI law.

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