A plea has been filed in the Supreme Court for an early hearing of a petition challenging a 2011 government notification, which includes the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on the list of “intelligence and security organisations” exempted from disclosing information to the public under the Right to Information Act.
Counsel Ajay Agrawal, in his petition, said the June 9, 2011 notification including the CBI in the Second Schedule of the Right to Information (RTI) Act of 2005 was arbitrary, especially when the organisation was only an investigating agency and not a security or intelligence organisation.
Agrawal, who had contested the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Rai Bareilly constituency against Congress President Sonia Gandhi.
The government had told the high court that the exemption granted to the CBI under RTI was not a “blanket exemption” and does not warrant judicial interference.
Mr. Agrawal, who has been pursuing the Bofors payoff case for years, contended that “by issuing the notification and placing the CBI in the Second Schedule, the government appears to be claiming absolute secrecy for the CBI without the sanction of the law.
This case had been transferred from the Delhi High Court to the apex court following the government’s claim of multiplicity of such petitions in several High Courts.
The RTI Act was a promise to the citizens by Parliament for transparency and accountability. It is incumbent on the government to provide the reasons for constricting the citizen’s fundamental right to information, the petition contended.
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.