The Government decides to take the CBI away from inspection under the RTI Act – hiding more details ?

The UPA Government is currently under a lot of pressure because of the various corruption investigations ongoing; the courts are looking into various issues and even guiding the CBI on how to do its investigations. In specific cases such as the Telecom 2G scam, the Supreme Court will scold the CBI when it feels that some action is not being taken, or there is some sort of interference in the actions of the CBI. This heat must be getting to the Government, since it has used the CBI in the past as a political weapon; guiding it in specific cases such as the Bofors case where the CBI proved spectacularly useless in finding out anything, as well as in the various disproportionate assets case against political leaders. Whenever there is a discussion in Parliament where the Government needs support, it dangles the cases being probed by the CBI and gets support from these political parties.
The RTI Act is a very powerful law that is still being evaluated in terms of the impact it can have on exposing wrong deeds; already, the exposure from RTI queries is helping a number of people. When you apply the RTI Act on CBI queries, the agency will be forced to reveal more details about why it took a certain position in many cases, causing potential embarrassment to the Government and to the agency. Is it any wonder that the Government accepted a plea by the CBI that its investigations can empower national security and moved the CBI under the organisations listed in the second schedule of Section 24 of the RTI Act, the same act which covers the intelligence agencies under the Government of India. In effect, the Government has now decreed that if the CBI has been investigating the assets of a leader, that information is now a matter of national security and its release will imperil the security of the nation. Further, if the CBI has been investigating the assets of IAS officers who are being accused of corruption, this again is a matter of national security. Absurd logic, is it not ? But what do you expect from a Prime Minister who has been ruling over a Government that has been universally accepted as being the most corrupt in the history of India; his own reputation of personal honesty has been blown apart after minister after minister has been running into problems. Consider the refusal of RTI applications in these cases (link to article):

The Government says it is working for a tough anti-corruption body through the Lokpal Bill. But it is now defending its action of shielding the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the Right to Information (RTI) Act. “The CBI is investigating various matters which involve national security. Therefore based on the opinion given to us by the Attorney General, we have done it (exempted the CBI),” V Narayanaswamy, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office, told NDTV on Monday.
The CBI has refused to make public, the information about disproportionate asset cases against government servants, including bureaucrats and ministers. The Centre, through a notification issued on June 9, had placed the agency in the organisations listed in the second schedule of Section 24 of the RTI Act, which also comprises intelligence and security agencies. “The Government of India…has placed the Central Bureau of Investigation at Serial Number 23 of the second schedule of the Right to Information Act, this act is not applicable to the Central Bureau of Investigation,” CBI joint director Prabodh Kumar said in reply to an RTI application filed by activist SC Agarwal.

The Government has already been facing flak in this case. The media has linked this with the Government refusing to accept the civil society version of the Lokpal Bill (with Anna Hazare getting ready for Fast Part 2 on Aug 16th), and even the NAC members (who are allied with the Government are also opposing this stand by the Government). As expected, the personally honest Prime Minister is ready for accepting such restrictions which just seek to push anti-corruption steps further away.

1 comment to The Government decides to take the CBI away from inspection under the RTI Act – hiding more details ?

  • Deepak Goyal

    Editor: Here is a comment on this article made by an external commenter.

    Below is the text of a letter I saw in a email forward. AIADMK member Dr. Thumbi Durai is a Joint Parliament committee (JPC) member to investigate 2G scam. But he is so deep in corruption if you read the letter sent to Speaker. No wonder this country is going to dogs

    – Deepak

    Addressed From:
    Student Reprsentatives of Adhiyaman College of Engineering

    Addressed To:
    20 Akbar Road, New Delhi – 110 011


    Respected Madam,

    We request you to remove Dr. Thambi Durai (AIADMK MP) from 2G spectrum scam JPC. Following reasons
    – We are students and college staff members in Adhiyaman College of Engineering (Address: Dr. MGR Nagar, Hosur, Krishnagiri, Tamil Nadu, PIN CODE – 635109). Dr. Bhanumathi is our Chairperson (Wife of Dr. Thambi Durai)
    – Dr. Thambi Durai is a corrupted individual. In our opinion, he is not qualified to investigate corruption of other politicians.
    – He and his wife own about 10 Engineering colleges in Tamil Nadu and many other colleges in Faridabad, UP (Adhiyaman Educational Trust). Their value is Rs. 3000 Crore rupees, but his election affidavit hides this detail. Many in college management told that he gave false details to Election commission. Election Commission, please start investigation
    – Tamil Nadu state Government Education department stipulates Engineering colleges should collect tuition fees as per their ceiling limits (Approx. Rs. 45,000 per year). But Adhiyaman Engineering college authorities collect money from students at a double rate (Rs. 80,000 per year). Forcing poor middle class students to pay higher fees is a crime. We have evidence records to prove.
    – College Management prepares fake salary vouchers to show to UGC and AICTE. College staff is paid very less salary in hand. They are also angry about this cheating
    – Even when DMK was ruling, Adhiyaman college authorities were never afraid about the Government and still collected higher tuition fees. Thambi Durai has friends in DMK and he used to threaten in case of student complaints. How do you expect him to probe and bring out truth in 2G scam when DMK members are his friends
    – In DMK ruling, Thambi Durai and his Management involved in several corrupt dealings to receive Government aids and licenses. To change our college status (Government aided college status), college Management paid Rs. 50 Lakh to former Vice Chancellor Dr. Radha Krishnan. Later Dr. Radha Krishnan was arrested (corruption). One AICTE inspection member was also paid by Dr. Radha Krishnan. We have bank transaction details proof and willing cooperate in secret. This money was given to a trust owned by Dr. Radha Krishnan’s wife in Coimbatore.
    – Dr. Thambi Durai bribed many Vice Chancellors and Education Minister in DMK period. He is involved in many money dealings with them and he made two Vice Chancellors (Dr. Viswanathan and Dr. S. Kaliappan) to join his party (AIADMK). Vice Chancellors helped Dr. Thambi Durai in many approvals and licenses. No complaint about Adhiyaman college is never investigated by Education Department
    – UGC members and AICTE members are also paid in money for keeping quiet. Old Coimbatore VC Radha Krishnan knows all details
    – We have no trust State Government will take action. No action in DMK government and definitely no action in AIADMK government
    – Relatives of Bangalore Court Judge (B M Mallikarjuniah) studying in our college. Tuition is completely free for them. Everything is free for them. This Judge is handling some important cases related to MP Mr. Thambi Durai. Sometimes relatives of this judge stayed in our Guest house. He can even bribe Judges, and close the case. Very powerful person
    – He used many staff members and students to give money voters in Karur (MP election in 2009). 70 crores spent in election. Unaccounted money in Adhiyaman Educational trust was illegally transferred to Karur and distributed to voters (Rupees 500 for one vote, Rupees 2000 for one family). It is an open secret in college.
    Based on reasons, please remove corrupt AIADMK MP Dr Thambi Durai from 2G spectrum JPC and disqualify him as MP. Please start corrupt cases against him. Jail him.
    If no action from you, we go for hunger strike. Some

    Student Representatives of Adhiyaman Engineering College & Management Staff
    Carbon Copy To:
    1) Mr. PC Chacko, MP, JPC Chairperson
    2) CEC, Election Commission of India
    3) 2G JPC Members
    4) Chief Vigilance Commission
    14)Dr. Subramanian Swamy, Janata Party”

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