Govt went overboard on exempting CBI from RTI

Documents reveal that the agency wanted partial exemption

danish

Danish Raza | October 21, 2011



Government documents obtained through the right to information have revealed that the government decided to keep the CBI completely out of the transparency act while the investigating agency had demanded partial exemption.

The documents reveal that while the agency asked for exemptions in certain quarters and files regarding the same did the rounds in various departments, the department of personnel and training kept the CBI out of the RTI.

“Legal opinion was repeatedly sought by the government for the right advice and the right request from the CBI. This has been revealed in a set of confidential documents, ironically released through RTI to activist Subhash Agarwal,” said the news report in Hindustan Times newspaper.

According to the report, a CBI official conceded that the agency sensed the government wanted to give them a blanket exemption and played along.

“The CBI's original demand around January 2011 was for exemption of intelligence collection, internal analysis of evidence and its sources from RTI. But the department of personnel that implements RTI found the request vague and asked for a fresh proposal,” said the report.

Social activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal obtained the documents through RTI.

The report says that in February, the CBI submitted a proposal to DoPT asking for exemption of information relating to administration, personnel, accounts/finance, budget and training.

DoPT sought the law ministry’s opinion on the same.

The then solicitor general Gopal Subarmanium said that the demand was justified but the committee of secretaries termed it impractical.

The matter then rested with the law ministry. This was when Attorney General, GE Vahanvati disagreed with Subarmanium and advised that the agency should be put under the list of organisations exempted from the RTI.

Union minister Veerapa Moily supported Vahanvati’s views and the same was approved soon by the panel of secretaries.

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