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Oil-for-Food scam: SC dismisses ED plea, CIC can peruse file

SC dismissed the plea of the Enforcement Directorate challenging the CIC order to produce the file of "oil-for-food scam" before it to peruse the agency`s investigations and decide on their disclosure.



New Delhi: The Supreme Court today dismissed
the plea of the Enforcement Directorate challenging the
Central Information Commission order to produce the file of
"oil-for-food scam" before it to peruse the agency`s
investigations and decide on their disclosure.

The bench comprising Justice A K Ganguly and Justice G S
Singhvi trashed the arguments put forth by Government against
the production of file before the CIC.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramaniam, in his argument,
raised a question mark over the powers of the Central
Information Commission to peruse the ongoing investigations
conducted by the Enforcement Directorate.

In his observations, Justice Ganguly said there was so
much of corruption in the country and RTI Act was a "breath of
fresh air".

He said the Act has even been applied to the judiciary
and "we welcome it."

"It is a reflection on the government that they brought
this matter upto the Supreme Court. The ED kept saying that
they are investigating the case for the last five years but
they are shying to show the progress to Central Information
Commission. The file will now have to be shown to the CIC,"
Prashant Bhushan, senior lawyer appearing for the Supreme
Court, said.

RTI applicant Arun Agrawal had sought the entire file
containing note sheets relating to the report of Virendra
Dayal, appointed by the government as special envoy to
coordinate with UN officials on the Paul Volcker Committee
report.

The Paul Volcker Committee was set up by the United
Nations in April 2004 to probe corruption and fraud in its
Oil-for-Food Programme in Iraq, which saw the ouster of former
External Affairs minister Natwar Singh for his alleged
involvement.

The Central Information Commission had directed the
Enforcement Directorate to produce the file before it before
deciding on the records` exemption from disclosure under the
RTI Act. The Enforcement Directorate had challenged the decision
in the High Court pleading that CIC had expanded the scope of
the appeal pending before it.

It said the Commission cannot call for records
pertaining to ongoing investigations in the light of its
limited powers.

However, the High Court had said "CIC has jurisdiction
to decide whether proviso to Section 24 (1) of the Act is
applicable and whether conditions mentioned in section 8(1) of
the Act are satisfied. To satisfy and have a just and fair
decision, CIC can direct production of records and examine
them."

After being snubbed by the Delhi High Court for seeking
exemption from inspection of records in the oil-for-food
scam by CIC, the Enforcement Directorate had approached the
Supreme Court.

-PTI

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