Despite CIC order, PMO refuses to share data on black money brought from abroad, claims disclosure may impede inquiries
Rejecting a CIC order, the Prime Minister's Office has refused to share details on the quantum of black money brought back from abroad, citing a provision of the RTI Act that bars disclosure of information that may impede investigation and prosecution of offenders.
New Delhi: The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) has refused to share details on the quantum of black money brought back from abroad, citing a provision of the RTI Act that bars disclosure of information that may impede investigation and prosecution of offenders.
Its response came on an 16 October order passed by the Central Information Commission, asking the PMO to provide details of black money within 15 days.
Replying to an RTI query, the PMO said a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has already been formed and its investigation is underway.
“As such, disclosure of all the action/efforts undertaken by the government at this juncture may impede the whole process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders and hence would attract the provision of exemption under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act,” it said in response to the RTI application filed by whistleblower bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi.
Such investigations come under the purview of different government intelligence and security organisations excluded from the ambit of the RTI Act, the PMO said.
Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer, had sought information on the quantum of black money brought from abroad since June 1, 2014.
In its initial reply to the RTI application, the Prime Minister's Office had in October last year said the query was not covered under Section 2(f) of the transparency law that defines information.
Chaturvedi thereafter moved the Central Information Commission which had last month ordered the PMO to provide information within 15 days.
There is, at present, no official assessment on the quantum of black money in India and abroad.
According to a study by US-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI), an estimated $770 billion in black money entered India during 2005-2014.
Nearly USD 165 billion in illicit money exited the country during the same period, the report by the global financial watchdog said.
In response to another query mentioned in the Chaturvedi's application, the PMO refused to share details of corruption complaints received against Union ministers, saying providing such information "may be a subjective as well as a cumbersome exercise".
Subscribe to Moneycontrol Pro at ₹499 for the first year. Use code PRO499. Limited period offer. *T&C apply
Indian social activist Anjali Bharadwaj among 12 winners of US state dept's anti-corruption champions award
Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the 12 individuals worked tirelessly 'to defend transparency, combat corruption, and ensure accountability in their own countries'
All you need to know about Anjali Bhardwaj: RTI activist being honoured by US for combatting corruption
The 48-year-old activist, who has been involved in the RTI movement for over two decades, has helped drive several legislations, including the RTI Act 2005, and The Lokpal and Lokayuktas Act, 2013, among others