ED remains in denial mode over blackmoney issue

The Enforcement Directorate has refused to disclose information on blackmoney stashed in Swiss Banks.

New Delhi: The Enforcement Directorate has
refused to disclose information on blackmoney stashed in Swiss Banks, despite the Central Information Commission directing it
to make public the information in this regard.

A full-bench of the transparency panel had directed the
Directorate, an organisation exempted under the RTI Act, to
provide information on the issue as it relates to corruption.

The Second schedule of section 24 of the RTI Act exempts
several organisations like intelligence agencies, paramilitary
forces among others from disclosing information. However, the
exemption does not cover information which may be related to
human rights violations and corruption.

The ED in reply to V R Chandran had cited the exemption
clause to withhold information on black money stashed in Swiss
Banks but the argument was rejected by the Commission.

In its order the full bench has said, "Enforcement
Directorate had strenuously argued before us that they stand
exempted from disclosure obligation under RTI Act by virtue of
their inclusion in the Second Schedule, under Section 24 of
the RTI Act."

"We would like to dwell upon this aspect of argument in
the context of a proviso built into the Section 24 itself that
these exemptions are subject to their not being matters of
`human rights violations` or `allegations of corruption`.

"In our view, all matters now investigated by the
Enforcement Directorate in the matter of stashing away of
Indian money in foreign banks, come within the definition of
allegations of corruption in Section 24".

But despite such clear orders, when similar queries were
sent by activist S C Agrawal, who had attached the order with
the plea, the Directorate refused the information citing its
exemption from disclosures under the RTI Act.
"Attention of the applicant is invited to section 24 of
the RTI Act, 2005 inter-alia to the effect that - `(i) Nothing
contained this Act shall apply to the intelligence and
security organisations specified in the Second Schedule...`
Directorate of Enforcement is one such organisation," it said.

Agrawal has filed a complaint with the CIC saying that
CPIO has "defied" the orders of the Commission by not
providing the information which was allowed to be disclosed by
the transparency watchdog.
"Even if any stay-order from some competent Court might
have been obtained on the said CIC-verdict, CPIO must have
mentioned about it in its reply. Such evasive reply from CPIO
unnecessarily increases work-load on Central Information
Commission when CPIOs do not respond to RTI queries despite
even full-bench verdicts by the Central Information
Commission," the complaint said.

Bureau Report