Begin typing your search above and press return to search.
News Updates

Enforcement Directorate Exempted From RTI Act Except When Information Relates To Allegations Of Corruption Or Human Rights Violation: Delhi HC

Nupur Thapliyal
25 March 2022 2:30 PM GMT
Enforcement Directorate Exempted From RTI Act Except When Information Relates To Allegations Of Corruption Or Human Rights Violation: Delhi HC
x

The Delhi High Court has observed that the Enforcement Directorate being an intelligence and security organization as specified in Second Schedule of Right to Information Act is exempted from the purview of the Act except when the information pertains to allegation of corruption and human rights violation.Justice Manmohan and Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain was dealing with a plea concerning an...

The Delhi High Court has observed that the Enforcement Directorate being an intelligence and security organization as specified in Second Schedule of Right to Information Act is exempted from the purview of the Act except when the information pertains to allegation of corruption and human rights violation.

Justice Manmohan and Justice Sudhir Kumar Jain was dealing with a plea concerning an RTI application filed by a Superintendent (respondent in the matter) working in the Administration with of Enforcement Directorate.

The said application sought copies of all the seniority list in respect of Lower Division Clerks (LDCs) for the period of 1991 till date as also the copies of proposal for promotion of LDCs placed before the DPC together with copies of the Minutes of the Meetings and copies of the promotion orders issued on the recommendations of the DPC from time to time.

The CIC had directed the said information to be provided to the respondent. However, the said order was challenged by the Union of India before a Single Judge which had dismissed the said plea vide order dated 7th December 2018.

While the LPA was filed before the division bench, the application for stay filed by the Union or India was disposed of. Accordingly, an SLP was filed in the Supreme Court challenging the division bench order refusing grant of stay.

The Supreme Court had then disposed of the SLP vide order dated 1st October, 2021 with a direction to the High Court to decide the issue with respect to applicability of the RTI Act to the Appellant and then decide the stay application.

It was argued on behalf of the Centre that the learned Single Judge while passing the impugned order had held that the information sought by the respondent did not fall under the purview of sec. 24 of the RTI Act.

It was thus argued that the Single Judge had erred in observing that the information should be provided to respondent since it did not pertain to intelligence or security and secrecy of the Appellant organization.

On the other hand, the respondent argued that in the absence of information sought for, she was unable to enforce her fundamental and legal right to promotion. It was argued that despite the order dated 10th October, 2018 passed by Central Administrative Tribunal, no information was furnished by the Appellant to her till date.

"Undoubtedly, the Appellant is an intelligence and security organization specified in Second Schedule of RTI Act and is exempt from the purview of RTI Act except when the information pertains to allegation of corruption and human rights violation. Consequently, the submission made by Mr.Amit Mahajan is correct that the Appellant cannot be called upon to disclose information under the provisions of RTI Act except when the information sought pertains to the allegations of corruption and human rights violation," the Court said.

On the question as to whether the information sought for by the respondent fell within the expression 'human rights', the Court said that the expression 'human rights' cannot be given a narrow or pedantic meaning.

"It does not refer to the rights of the accused alone. Human rights have been used for a variety of purposes, from resisting torture and arbitrary incarceration to determining the end of hunger and of medial neglect. In fact, the human rights are both progressive and transformative," the Court observed.

Adding that employees have a legitimate expectation of promotion, the Court noted that it was not the case of the Appellant that its employees and officers cannot file legal proceedings to air their grievances with regard to service conditions and wrongful denial of promotions.

"The intent of service jurisprudence at the level of any establishment/organization is to promote peace and harmony and at the level of the society, the objective is to promote human rights. If employees of an establishment cannot agitate their grievances before judicial forums, these organizations/establishments may become autocratic," the Court said.

Importantly, the Court also said:

"In fact, RTI Act is a tool which facilitates the employees and officers in airing their grievances systematically. According to Statement of Objects and Reasons, the intent and purpose of RTI Act is to secure access to information in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. It is said that 'Sunlight is the best disinfectant' and RTI Act promotes the said concept. Consequently, both service and RTI laws 'act like a safety valve in the society'."

Accordingly, the Court was of the view that the employees of a security establishment cannot be deprived of their fundamental and legal rights just because they work in an intelligence and security establishment. To hold so would amount to holding that those who serve in these organizations have no human rights, the Court added.

While adding that non-supply of the information or documents is a human rights violation as in the absence of the same respondent would not be able to agitate her right to promotion, the Court also observed that information pertaining to proposals for promotion of third parties cannot be provided to the respondent in view of sec. 8(1)(j) and 11 of the RTI Act.

"Consequently, this Court directs the Appellant to provide copies of all the seniority list in respect of LDCs for the period of 1991 till date as well as copies of the proposal for promotion of respondent (LDC) placed before the DPC together with copies of the Minutes of the Meetings and copy of the promotion/rejection order issued on the recommendations of DPC from time to time," the Court directed.

Accordingly, the appeal was disposed of.

Case Title: UNION OF INDIA v. CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMMISSION & ANR

Citation: 2022 LiveLaw (Del) 237

Click Here To Read Order 



Next Story