The Madras High Court on Friday issued a notice to the Union Government on a PIL seeking to declare a recent notification exempting Central Bureau of Investigation(CBI) from the purview of Right to Information Act as ultra vires of the Constitution.
A bench comprising Chief Justice M Y Eqbal and Justice T S Sivagnanam directed Additional Solicitor General M Ravindran, who took the notice on behalf of Union Government, to get instructions from it within three weeks.
Petitioner S Vijayalakshmi, an RTI activist, challenged the June 9 notification issued by the Centre exempting the CBI from Central Act 22 of 2005 (Right To Information Act).However, the court declined to grant a stay on the notification as sought by the petitioner and posted the matter for further hearing after three weeks.
The petitioner alleged that since the expose of Commonwealth Games, 2G allocation and other scams and the Lokpal movement, the Centre had become “jittery and rudderless” in the war against corruption.
The Centre had “maliciously” decided to conceal its “wrongdoings” by taking recourse to section 24 of the RTI Act and cloaked the CBI by granting it blanket exemption from the RTI, the petitioner charged.
Claiming that certain bureaucrats at a meeting of Committee of Secretaries had disagreed with the decision to exempt CBI, the petitioner urged the court to issue a direction to the government to produce the related files.
Counsel for the petitioner Manikandan Vathan Chettiar contended the respondents have “willfully” overlooked the first proviso to section 24(1) of RTI Act excluding information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations from being exempted under section 24.
He further submitted that Section 24 exempts only intelligence and security agencies, whereas the CBI was a mere investigating agency.