- At a time when the government is mulling changes in the RTI Act, information commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha has suggested that investigative, intelligence and security agencies like NIA, CBI, IB and paramilitary forces should come under the purview of the law, saying there are adequate safeguards in the Act to keep sensitive information outside the public domain.
- The former IPS officer, who spent most of his time in Intelligence Bureau (IB), says transparency needs to be “all pervasive” and that the RTI Act helps bring in accountability in government departments.
20-odd investigative agencies are outside the ambit of the RTI Act:
- Currently, 20-odd investigative agencies are outside the ambit of the RTI Act, subject to exceptions like allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
- It includes agencies like IB, RAW, DRI, para-military forces like BSF and CRPF as well as Assam Rifles, CBI, NIA, NSG and others. These are part of a list of exempt agencies in the Second Schedule of Section 24 of the RTI Act.
- Keeping security agencies on a “different pedestal with certain riders is difficult to understand”. “There are exemption provisions under Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act that take adequate care of information which these (security) organisations may not like to disclose in public domain,” explains Sinha, adding that the applicability of the enabling provisions of RTI Act should be all-pervasive for public authorities.
- “Transparency is the anti-thesis of corruption.
- That exemption of security, intelligence and investigative agencies has a significant negative impact on the right of the people to information under the Act.