The Madhya Pradesh government has decided to take the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) and the Lokayukta’s Special Police Establishment out of the ambit of Right to Information Act.
In an order passed on Thursday by the General Administration Department (GAD), the government has declared that the provisions of the RTI Act will not apply to the EOW and the Lokayukta police.
Several high-profile cases of corruption involving government officials and politicians are currently being investigated by the two institutions.
Interestingly, the government has cited the danger to the lives of those seeking information on such cases as the main reason behind the move. Additionally, it has cited that providing information on cases being pursued by the two institutions may hamper investigations.
“Section 8 (1) of the RTI Act provides for exemption from disclosure of information on certain grounds,” the order reads.
While Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan has urged President Pratibha Patil to give her assent to the State’s Special Courts Bill, 2011, in order for it to curb corruption, civil society activists in the State have termed the order unconstitutional and pointed out that the State government’s recent order seems motivated to protect the corrupt.
RTI activist Ajay Dube of Prayatna, an NGO, has submitted a memorandum to the Governor, appealing for a repeal of the order.
“The government has used, or rather misused, sub-section 4 of section 24 of the RTI Act to pass this order. At the most, they can omit confidential information on cases under investigation, but what’s the harm in providing information on human rights and corruption related cases?,” asked Mr. Dube.
“But they have exempted these two institutions from disclosure of information altogether, which is illegal and unconstitutional. This just shows that the government intends to shield powerful people involved in corruption, including top officials and ministers, against whom investigations are going on in the EOW and the Lokayukta,” he said.