Madras High Court issues notice to Center on RTI exemption to CBI

The Madras High Court has issued notice to the Government of India on taking out the Central Bureau of Investigation from the ambit of the Right to Information Act or RTI.

The Cabinet had removed the CBI from within the scope of the RTI a week ago claiming that the RTI petitions seeking information on case-status were detrimental to the investigations.

The case in the Madras High Court was filed a few days ago, but was taken up today. The petitioner had argued that it was not necessary to give a ‘blanket protection’ to the CBI from revealing information to the citizens.

The RTI, enacted six years ago, makes it obligatory for any publicly funded organization to give any information that can be submitted to the Parliament of India to its citizens as well, on request.

The RTI, which is implemented through a hierarchical network of information officers headed by the Chief Information Commissioner in Delhi, has been widely used to expose corruption. Activists and citizens regularly use the Act to get information about how money is spent on government projects like road construction etc..

The RTI Act already gives exemption to compliance in sensitive cases where the security of the country may be hampered by the revelation of information. However, the Government felt that the CBI should be completely exempted from the RTI Act.

The CBI has failed to make any headway in many crucial investigations such as the Aarushi murder case, the Ruchira Girhotra case etc.. and citizens often seek to expose the agency’s failures by seeking updated information about the progress of the case through RTI.