CBI need not give information under RTI Act anymore

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New Delhi, Jun 11: In a further set back to the Centre's transparency claims and curbing the powers of the powerful Right to Information Act (RTI), the Cabinet has decided to exclude the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) from the Act. They will now not have to give out information under the Act in case of a petition.

The decision was arrived after a plea by the CBI in lieu of the sensitive cases they probed and thus it "becomes difficult for it to share information and also in accessing the information'. The issue was discussed within the committee of secretaries (CoS) and a decision was arrived at after a couple of meetings. The CBI also stated that they "hold the investigations of several politically sensitive cases which have inter-state and international ramification".

Cabinet Secretary K M Chandrasekhar presided over by the CoS and recommended that the CBI 's request was valid but also stated that there were differing voices as well. He said on this, "the move will put question marks on the transparency of the government at a time when CBI is investigating sensitive cases like 2G spectrum scam and CWG scam."

The CBI spokesperson Dharini Mishra was quoted as saying, "If CBI has been exempted from RTI Act, then this is what we wanted. We have cases where information keeps on coming even after investigations are over. In that case, providing information leads to several problems."

The investigative agency had earlier requested to the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) for immunity from the RTI act with the DoPT in turn seeking the law ministry's views on the issue. A CBI official stated, "In a particular case registered in CBI, opinion is written by every officer from investigating officer to the director on a single file. The file forms part of crucial evidence and if this evidence is shared through RTI, then it may hamper the investigations and the trial."

The CBI is swarmed with RTI petitions every week seeking information on file notings on cases that have already been closed or on a charge-sheeted case. A CBI officer claimed, "In many cases, even the accused persons who are being investigated by us ask for information which should not be available to them."

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