Thursday, September 24, 2009

Good news about DVAC

There was an order passed at a hearing hearing yesterday (24th September 2009) at the SIC, which in effect brings DVAC (Directorate of Vigilance and Anti-Corruption) back under RTI, in spite of the GO No.158 by P&AR which exempted it more than a year back. This is what happened. I have talked about it here and here.

Close to a month after DVAC was exempted, I filed an RTI application with the DVAC, seeking information about completed cases of investigation into corruption complaints. I had also sought details of those who were convicted. There was no reply to the RTI application and the first appeal. So I filed an appeal with the Commission. This appeal was filed last december and the hearing came up today. The argument I took up was, that the proviso to section 24(4) says "Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section:" and since the information I had asked for was related to corruption, DVAC has to disclose the information.

The Commission (which had the Chief and GR sitting today) ordered that since the information I had was related to corruption, this has to be disclosed since the proviso is clear. If at all, information can be exempted only under 8(1)(h) which says "information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension of offenders;". The commissioner also notes that if the information would cause embarrassment to the official concerned before the investigation is complete, then such information has to be exempt from disclosure. The commissioner also pointed out that if the organisation has any "intelligence and security" related information then that can be exempt from disclosure. Of course, I am yet to get a copy of the order since the hearing happened only yesterday, but this decision, in effects, blunts the effect of the GO, since this still keeps DVAC under RTI act when it comes to corruption related information and since the DVAC is all about corruption cases, they have to disclose most of the information. The commission has ordered the PIO to give me the information.

DVAC might still challenge the decision in the high court. But the fact that the SIC has given such a decision shows the absurdity of the GO in the first place. The case number is 39170/08.

No comments: