The Delhi High Court has directed the CBI to consider the application of an RTI activist seeking information about corruption within the central investigating body and action taken into allegations made by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of shady probe into the coalgate scam pursuant to a news report.
The Agency claimed that it is included in the second schedule to the Right to Information Act, 2005 and, by virtue of section 24(1) of the Act, is exempt from the purview of the Act.
Justice Vibhu Bakhru observed that it is apparent from the plain reading of the first proviso to Section 24(1) of the Act that information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violation are not excluded from the purview.
“Although, it would not be open for the petitioner to claim that information relating to allegations of corruption in other organisation is exempt from disclosure, however, the petitioner would be at liberty to examine whether the information sought by the petitioner is exempt under any of the clauses of Section 8(1) of the Act”, the Court said.
The court directed the probe agency to consider the request of RTI applicant Subhash Chandra Agrawal, who had come to the high court armed with an order of CIC passed on June 4, 2014 in his favour.
Agrawal had moved an RTI application following a newspaper report in 2013 about the CBI arresting its own officers -- SP Vivek Dutt and Rajesh Karnatak -- for taking bribe while probing coalgate.
He had sought to know if the CBI has any mode of sharing information with the media and if it has taken any action against corruption amongst its own officers.
Justice Bakhru was informed that a coordinate bench of the Delhi High Court has already held in CPIO, Intelligence Bureau, vs Sanjiv Chaturvedi, decided on August 23, that if the information sought pertains to corruption or human rights violation, it is not exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act.
"In view of the above, the petition is disposed of by directing the petitioner to examine the respondent's request. The information sought by the respondent would not be denied on the ground that CBI is excluded from the purview of the Act by virtue of Section 24(1) of the Act. However, the petitioner is at liberty to examine whether the information sought is otherwise exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1) of the Act. In the event the petitioner is of the view that the information sought is exempt under any of the clauses of Section 8(1) of the Act, the same would be communicated to the respondent within a period of six weeks from today. If aggrieved, the respondent would be at liberty to avail of such remedies as may be advised," Justice Bakhru said.