New Delhi: CBI, which is probing several
high-profile corruption cases, had demanded only partial
exemption from the ambit of the RTI Act as per its initial
proposal but later pressed for a blanket cover which was
approved by the Government this year.
The file notings provided by the Department of Personnel
and Training, under RTI Act, show that in 2007, Committee of
Secretaries had rejected the demand of the CBI to be included
in the list of organisations exempted from the RTI Act except
on allegations of human rights violations and corruption.
It had said CBI can utilise provisions of the RTI Act to
reject an information.
This year, CBI, which is probing several high profile
cases like 2G scam, CWG scam and Adarsh Scam, pushed a fresh
demand seeking "limited exemption" from the RTI Act in areas
of intelligence collection, secret verification besides
internal analysis of evidence and sources or process involved
in its collection.
The request of the agency was termed as "vague" by the
officials of the DoPT who demanded "full justifications" for
such a demand.
The Central Vigilance Commissioner has also opined that
only intelligence gathering arm of the CBI can be brought
under the exemption clauses of the RTI Act.
The then Solicitor General of India Gopal Subramaniam had
opined that the CBI can be considered to be added in the
second schedule of the RTI Act, "with the qualification that
after seeing out the words Central Bureau of Investigation
certain words in parenthesis will be added i.e `except matters
pertaining to administration, personnel, accounts/finance,
budget and training."
The Department, however, said according to the Act, once
an organisation is placed in exemption clause of the RTI Act,
no information except that related to allegations of human
rights violation and corruption can be given, the notings
provided to activist S C Agrawal show.
"There is no provision in the Act to specify any other
category of information pertaining to that organisation which
may or may not be disclosed," a department official said.
The DoPT finally came up with three options: exempting
CBI from disclosing any information except allegations of
human rights violation and corruption, exempting it except
matters pertaining to administration and exempting only
intelligence arm of the agency.
The CBI, however, strongly demanded that it should be
"full exemption" from the RTI Act and keeping away only its
special unit "may not serve purpose",
CBI`s views received support from Attorney General Goolam
Vahanvati who opined that given the work done by the agency,
it is "legally feasible" to include the CBI in the second
schedule of the RTI Act.
On exempting only investigative part of the CBI, as
recommended by the Solicitor General, Vahanvati said keeping
matters like administration within RTI Act would make
"intelligence gathering difficult, if not impossible. Further
such an exemption will have serious implications on other
security agencies" already included in the clause.
He said limiting the exemption only to the intelligence
unit of the CBI "would not serve the purpose because security
of the state is interwind with investigation."
Following this, nod was given by the Committee of
Secretaries and the Prime Minister to include the CBI in the
list of organisations exempted from RTI Act.