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CIC Directs CBI to Share Information on Corruption and Human Rights Violation Cases Under its Scanner

SabrangIndia 10 May 2019
In a welcome judgement, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to share information related to corruption or human rights violation cases irrespective of who is under the scanner - CBI, its own officers or some matter investigated  by CBI.

cic

CIC has advised the CBI Director to "appreciate the necessity of sensitizing their CPIOs regarding the scope and ambit of RTI Act and that of Section 24 in particular".

The directive was given by the Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha on a RTI application by Radha Mohan Sharma seeking information about a corruption complaint against an officer of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

Sharma had sought details of action taken on the complaint dated 08.04.2017 regarding alleged irregularities committed during allotment of LPG distributorship by officers of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. at Kishangarh Renwal, Tehsil Sambhar, Jaipur, and in particular against Ranjeet Singh. However, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) refused to provide the necessary information citing section 24(1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Section 24 provides that intelligence and security organisations are exempt from the RTI Act but if the information sought from them pertains to corruption or human rights violation, the same is not exempt from the exclusion clause and has to be provided under the RTI Act

The CPIO further referred to the written submissions dated April 30, 2019 sent to the Commission wherein it had been submitted that CPIO, CBI, is obliged to provide information relating to an allegation of corruption against its own employees and not regarding cases of corruption being investigated by the CBI.

However, the CIC rebutted this claim of the CBI, saying that it does not hold good.

The commission referred to the Delhi High Court judgment in CPIO, Intelligence Bureau vs Sanjiv Chaturvedi, wherein it was held that: "The plain reading of the proviso shows that the exclusion is applicable with regard to any information. The term "any information" would include within its ambit all kinds of information. The proviso becomes applicable if the information pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violation. The proviso is not qualified and conditional on the information being related to the exempt intelligence and security organizations. If the information sought, furnished by the exempt intelligence and security organizations, pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violation, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause".

The high court had concluded that "the only conclusion that can be drawn is that, if the information sought pertains to allegation of corruption and human right violation, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause, irrespective of the fact that the information pertains to the exempt intelligence and security organizations or not or pertains to an Officer of the Intelligence Bureau or not".
Concluding its order, the commission said, "The aforesaid ratio laid down with respect to the Intelligence Bureau is squarely applicable to the case of CBI also."

It then directed the CBI director to sensitise its CPIOs, on section 24. However, the commission disposed of the appeal citing that it did not find any material to support the claim of the appellant that the subject matter pertained to corruption.

The entire order can be read here.

Related Articles:

CIC Directs CBI to Share Information on Corruption and Human Rights Violation Cases Under its Scanner

In a welcome judgement, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to share information related to corruption or human rights violation cases irrespective of who is under the scanner - CBI, its own officers or some matter investigated  by CBI.

cic

CIC has advised the CBI Director to "appreciate the necessity of sensitizing their CPIOs regarding the scope and ambit of RTI Act and that of Section 24 in particular".

The directive was given by the Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha on a RTI application by Radha Mohan Sharma seeking information about a corruption complaint against an officer of the Indian Oil Corporation (IOC).

Sharma had sought details of action taken on the complaint dated 08.04.2017 regarding alleged irregularities committed during allotment of LPG distributorship by officers of Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. at Kishangarh Renwal, Tehsil Sambhar, Jaipur, and in particular against Ranjeet Singh. However, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) refused to provide the necessary information citing section 24(1) of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Section 24 provides that intelligence and security organisations are exempt from the RTI Act but if the information sought from them pertains to corruption or human rights violation, the same is not exempt from the exclusion clause and has to be provided under the RTI Act

The CPIO further referred to the written submissions dated April 30, 2019 sent to the Commission wherein it had been submitted that CPIO, CBI, is obliged to provide information relating to an allegation of corruption against its own employees and not regarding cases of corruption being investigated by the CBI.

However, the CIC rebutted this claim of the CBI, saying that it does not hold good.

The commission referred to the Delhi High Court judgment in CPIO, Intelligence Bureau vs Sanjiv Chaturvedi, wherein it was held that: "The plain reading of the proviso shows that the exclusion is applicable with regard to any information. The term "any information" would include within its ambit all kinds of information. The proviso becomes applicable if the information pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violation. The proviso is not qualified and conditional on the information being related to the exempt intelligence and security organizations. If the information sought, furnished by the exempt intelligence and security organizations, pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violation, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause".

The high court had concluded that "the only conclusion that can be drawn is that, if the information sought pertains to allegation of corruption and human right violation, it would be exempt from the exclusion clause, irrespective of the fact that the information pertains to the exempt intelligence and security organizations or not or pertains to an Officer of the Intelligence Bureau or not".
Concluding its order, the commission said, "The aforesaid ratio laid down with respect to the Intelligence Bureau is squarely applicable to the case of CBI also."

It then directed the CBI director to sensitise its CPIOs, on section 24. However, the commission disposed of the appeal citing that it did not find any material to support the claim of the appellant that the subject matter pertained to corruption.

The entire order can be read here.

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