Chennai: The Madras High Court on Wednesday
reserved its orders on a PIL challenging a Centre`s
notification exempting CBI from the purview of the RTI Act.
A Division Bench comprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and
Justice T S Sivagnanam reserved orders after hearing arguments
on the petition filed by RTI activist and advocate S
Vijayalakashmi seeking to declare the June 9 notification as
ultra vires the Constitution.
In its counter affidavit, the Union government asserted
that the right to information was not an absolute right and
pointed out that there was a need to balance the right of a
citizen against the need to ensure the security of the nation,
which should not be jeopardized due to disclosure of
information with security implications.
"The exemption granted to CBI under section 24 is not a
blanket exemption inasmuch as the exemption is subject to the
provisos of section 24 of the RTI Act," submitted K G Verma,
Joint Secretary in the Union Department of Personnel and
Training, attached to the Ministry of Personnel, Public
Grievances and Pensions.
Hence, allegations pertaining to corruption and human
rights violations were still within the purview of the RTI
Act, subject to other provisions of the act, he said.
The officer submitted that cases handled by the CBI were
very sensitive and inputs based on intelligence collected
which could relate to the security of the state.
"In many sensitive cases the collection of intelligence
and the process of investigation and trial are intertwined and
cannot be separated," the affidavit said.
Claiming that the petitioner`s contentions were false and
misleading, the centre prayed for dismissal of the petition.
CBI, in a separate counter affidavit, claimed the right
to information with respect to other fundamental rights under
Article 19(1) of the Constitution "is not an unfettered right
and is subject to reasonable restrictions".