Odisha takes Vigilance out of RTI purview; activists cry foul

Bhubaneswar: The State government has taken the State Vigilance, which is under the General Administration department, out of the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act under Sec 24 of the Act. The notification regarding this is in the possession of OTV.

With this change in the rule, common people will not get details of the people who get nabbed by the State Vigilance for amassing disproportionate assets or the amounts seized from them during the probe.

Justifying the government’s decision, Manoranjan Panigrahi, secretary of Information and Public Relations department, said, “Applications are often received through RTI asking for details of people who undergo Vigilance raid or their personal assets. It becomes difficult for us to provide such information as the confidentiality gets lost. Therefore, a proposal was sent to the Chief Minister, who approved the change.”

Meanwhile, RTI activists and civil society members have disapproved of the government’s decision.

Jagadananda, former Information Commissioner, said, “Information which are sensitive cannot be revealed during a probe. There are enough provisions in the existing law not to disclose such information. However, a complete curb on the release of information through RTI will create an unhealthy example. Many things will not come to the fore now.”

Threatening to move to the Orissa High Court over the government’s decision, Pradip Pradhan, an information rights activist, said, “We will first meet the Governor in whose name the order has been passed. Later, we will challenge in the order in the High Court. The move is completely illogical as well as illegal.”

Notably, the Government of India has kept Home, Defence, Finance Ministry, DRDO and organisations related to defence and intelligence outside the purview of the RTI. Similarly, the State government has kept five departments – State Special Branch, Intelligence Wing, SOG, Crime Branch and District Intelligence Bureau – out of the purview of the RTI Act.