CBI refuses to share information on graft PEs closed by it

NEW DELHI, Feb 8:
Pursuant to its new policy of stonewalling probing questions, CBI has gone a step ahead refusing to respond to RTI applications seeking information on closed preliminary enquiries on graft which are part of its public annual reports and have no bearing on any probe.
CBI, exempted from provisions under Right to Information Act, is under statutory obligation to respond to RTI pleas seeking the information (any material in any form held by or under the control of the public authority) related to “allegations” of corruption and human rights violation.
The information seeker had sought records of all the preliminary enquiries (PEs) on corruption closed by the agency during past one year but the two anti-corruption units of the agency returned the applications saying the agency is exempted from the RTI Act.
The rejection of the RTI petitions seems to be extension of the reported media policy adopted by new Joint Director R S Bhatti, in-charge of media relations, of not responding to any probing or uncomfortable questions from the media.
Recently, CBI Director Anil Sinha had also said in a media interaction that “nothing related to investigation should come in public domain”.
The DIG-ranked officials rejected the applications seeking to know the details of preliminary enquiries “closed” during last one year, without going through the exemption clause of the RTI Act and past orders of the Central Information Commission.
Ironically, the information on PEs is made public every year in the annual report of the agency which lists all the enquiries registered by CBI but does not give detail of whether it has been closed or converted into an FIR or a regular case.
Besides, closed PE will not have bearing on any probe as it has been ended officially by the agency which leaves out section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, commonly cited by the CBI to deny information on ongoing cases.
Also the RTI Act makes a statutory obligation on CBI to respond to applications seeking information on allegations of corruption as such information is not covered under exemption clause of the transparency law.
The then Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra had told the then CBI Director A P Singh that several of their CPIOs are rejecting RTI applications after being exempted from the RTI Act which was against the law.
After orders from the Commission, Singh had directed its officers that RTI applications should not be rejected by CPIOs despite agency coming under exempted category.
Ironically in the present case, the two DIGs have adopted two different policies in responding to RTI applications– one has refused to give information while other has returned the application with the fee, which is punishable under section 18 (1)(a) of the RTI Act.
Mishra in his order against CBI had said that the agency cannot refuse RTI applications seeking information related to allegations of corruption.
Section 24 of the RTI Act cited by the CBI officers while rejecting the information says “nothing contained in this Act shall apply to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the central government or any information furnished by such organisations to that government.(PTI)

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