The provision in the Right to Information (RTI) Act that empowers the Union government to exempt security and intelligence agencies from the purview of the Act has been challenged before the Kerala High Court.
D.B. Binu, RTI activist, questioned Section 24 of the Act by amending his writ petition pending before the High Court. The writ challenges the Centre's order taking away the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) from the purview of the Act.
Mr. Binu said the objective of the Act was to provide for a practical regime of the right to information for citizens in order to promote transparency and accountability.
He said Sections 8 and 9 of the Act exhaustively dealt with situations when information could be denied in public interest by public authorities defined under the Act. Section 24 of the Act empowered the Central government to specify in the second schedule organisations established for intelligence and security and to take such organisations out of the purview of the Act. This was contrary to the objective of the Act. As the Act laid down the grounds on which information could be denied, there was no need to provide a separate section for granting exemption to security and intelligence organisations from revealing information under the Act, he contended. Section 24 would insulate the security organisations from disclosing even matters outside the scope of Section 8. It would weaken these institutions, and make them a puppet of the executive.