Is Intelligence Bureau required to provide information on corruption under RTI, asks Delhi HC

Delhi HC asked the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to state whether it fell under the ambit of the RTI in cases with information about corruption,

PTI December 12, 2017 18:18:22 IST
Is Intelligence Bureau required to provide information on corruption under RTI, asks Delhi HC

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court on Tuesday asked the Intelligence Bureau (IB) to state whether it fell under the ambit of the Right to Information Act (RTI) in cases where information about corruption or human rights violation is sought from it.

Till date, the IB has been maintaining that it and its information are exempted from the purview of the transparency law.

Is Intelligence Bureau required to provide information on corruption under RTI asks Delhi HC

File image of Delhi High Court. AFP

The query by a bench of Justices Siddharth Mridul and SP Garg came after it perused a 2007 Ministry of Personnel office memorandum asking all such agencies, which are exempted from the purview of the RTI Act, to appoint central public information officers to provide information on corruption and human rights violations.

The IB's stand with regard to the office memorandum (OM) was sought during the hearing of its appeal challenging a single judge order upholding a CIC direction to the agency to give its report on alleged harassment and false cases against Indian Forest Service officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi for exposing graft.

While giving the agency time till 7 March to indicate its stand, the bench made it clear that there will be no interim stay of the single judge's decision.

During the hearing, Chaturvedi told the court that based on the IB report indicating a threat to his life, the Appointments Committee of Cabinet (ACC) had changed his cadre from Haryana to Uttarakhand, where he is a Conservator of Forests at Haldwani in Nainital District.

He has argued that the harassment and false allegations against him were directly linked to his exposure of corruption in the Haryana government as well as the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

He had sought through RTI, a copy of the IB report submitted in regard to alleged false cases filed against him.

Chaturvedi, who served as the chief vigilance officer at AIIMS from 2012-14, in his application to the CIC, had said that this report would help him fight the violation of his human rights caused by those public servants whose corruption he had exposed as part of his duties as an IFoS officer.

The information was sought from the Ministry of Environment which had sought the opinion of the IB before furnishing the details sought. The IB had objected to the disclosure, after which Chaturvedi had approached the Central Information Commission (CIC).

The CIC on 21 April, 2016, had held that even though the IB is exempted from sharing information under section 24 of the RTI Act, it has to provide information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations.

The agency appealed against the decision in the high court where a single judge bench had dismissed its plea on 23 August.

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