CBI to consider all RTI requests pertaining to any allegation of corruption or human rights violation
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The envelope containing the RTI application was returned to him by the postal authorities with the remark that the addressee refused to accept it. Thereafter he filed a complaint with the Central Information Commission (CIC) making some demands, such as, the CIC to enquire into the refusal by the CBI to accept the envelope containing the RTI application; to enquire into the alleged disbanding of the RTI structure by the CBI after the notification of the Central Government; to direct the CBI to reinstate the RTI structure; to remand the case back to the PIO to consider within the scope of the proviso to section 24 of the RTI Act; and to compensate him by an amount of Rs. 153, being the expenses incurred by him due to the refusal to accept the envelope containing the RTI application.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant argued that the information sought by him clearly falls within the proviso to section 24 since it was about the number of cases in which the CBI had sought permission/ sanction for prosecution involving allegations of corruption. The respondent submitted that the CBI was fully compliant with the demands of the RTI Act and accepted all RTI applications without any discrimination. He argued that it would not be right to hold that the CBI should entertain every RTI request seeking information on allegations of corruption as this would render its inclusion in the Second Schedule totally infructuous. He further submitted that since the CBI investigated cases involving allegations of corruption it would end up entertaining almost every RTI application and this could not be the objective of excluding certain organisations from the purview of the RTI Act. He also contented that the expression ‘allegations of corruption’ in the proviso implies such allegations against the employees of the exempt organisation only and not to every case of allegations of corruption.
View of CIC
The Commission observed that the proviso to section 24 of the RTI Act casts an obligation on the PIO of the exempted organisation to entertain all requests for information pertaining to allegations of corruption or human rights violations. It does not make any distinction between the exempted organisations on the basis of the functions they perform nor between allegations of corruption on the basis of whether it is made against the employees of the exempt organisation or against others. The CIC further noted that this particular section does not exclude the exempt organisations from the ambit of the RTI Act completely but is a qualified exemption. Therefore, there is no escape from the fact that the CBI will have to consider all RTI requests for information which pertains to any allegations of corruption and human rights violation irrespective of the individual against whom such allegations are made. However, while the proviso casts a duty on the PIO to entertain the RTI application seeking such information, all such information can be disclosed only subject to the provisions of the RTI Act i.e. if any such information is otherwise exempt under any of the exemption provisions, there is no obligation to disclose such information. All such requests would have to be dealt with on a case to case basis and appropriate order passed.
The Commission held that the information sought by the applicant is clearly related to allegations of corruption against various public servants. Therefore, it is covered under the proviso to section 24 of the RTI Act. The Commission directed the PIO to consider the RTI request and provide the information subject to the exemption provisions of the RTI Act, if he decides not to provide any information; he must pass a speaking order citing the appropriate provisions of the RTI Act. Under section 19(8)(b) In its decision, the Central Information Commission or State Information Commission, as the case may be, has the power to require the public authority to compensate the complainant for any loss or other detriment suffered; of the RTI Act, the Commission awarded a compensation of Rs. 153/- to the applicant stating that he has been put to loss due to the lapse on the part of the authorities in not accepting the envelope containing his RTI application.
Citation: Mr. C J Karira v. Central Bureau of Investigation in File No. CIC/SM/C/2012/000374
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/788
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