CBI rejects RTI applications – no info on corruption

New Delhi: Citing recent exemption given to it by the government, the CBI has refused to make public information about disproportionate asset cases against government servants, including bureaucrats and ministers.

The Centre through a notification issued on June 9 placed the agency in the organisations listed in the second schedule of the Section 24 of the RTI Act which also comprises intelligence and security agencies.

The exemption granted to agencies listed in the second schedule does not give blanket immunity from making disclosures under the transparency law as the Act states that information on "allegations" of corruption and human rights violation is to be disclosed even by these organisations.

Ironically, the CBI officials feel that by placing them under second schedule organisation, they have got blanket cover from making any disclosure as it was evident from the reply given to activist S C Agrawal by the agency.

"The Government of India…has placed the Central Bureau of Investigation at Serial Number 23 of the second schedule of the Right to Information Act, this act is not applicable to the Central Bureau of Investigation," CBI joint director Prabodh Kumar replied.

Agrawal had filed four RTI applications, three months before CBI got exemption, seeking details of corruption cases accusing officials and ministers of amassing disproportionate assets.

The questions asked by him pertained to recoveries done by the agency from accused and fine slapped on corrupt officials on the orders of courts.

The Central Public Information Officer of the agency refused to provide information, saying it was "voluminous".

In his appeal before the Central Information Commission, Agrawal pleaded that since his RTI petition and first appeal were filed prior to date of notification exempting CBI, provisions of the said notification should not be applicable to his case.

"Even otherwise, section 24 of RTI Act clearly stipulates that information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violation shall be provided even if some organisations are placed in second schedule of RTI Act," he said in his appeal before the CIC.

Agrawal said such a step will further increase misuse of CBI by political rulers for their political requirements as is evident in many cases, a bitter fact also endorsed by former CBI directors.