Other States

Bring Vigilance Directorate under RTI purview: Orissa HC

The Orissa High Court has directed the State Vigilance Directorate to share information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations under the Right to Information Act.

The order assumes significance as the State government has been denying bringing the Vigilance Directorate, the anti-corruption bureau, under the purview of the RTI Act.

In 2016, some RTI activists had moved the High Court challenging the Odisha government’s August 11, 2016 notification, which granted exemption to the Vigilance Department from the ambit of the RTI Act.

“This court issues a declaratory writ to the effect that the impugned notification of August 11, 2016 issued by the Information and Public Relations Department, Government of Odisha, under Section 24 (4) of the RTI Act, will not permit the government to deny information pertaining to the Vigilance Department involving allegations of corruption and human rights violations, and other information that does not touch upon any of the sensitive and confidential activities undertaken by the Vigilance Department,” ordered a Division Bench comprising Chief Justice S. Muralidhar and judge R. K. Pattanaik.

Clarification within 4 weeks

The Bench directed the State government to issue a clarification within four weeks. While hearing the case, the High Court observed that information pertaining to allegations of corruption and human rights violations had been legislatively identified by the RTI Act as a species as deserving of a different treatment in terms of disclosure, which is highlighted by the first proviso to both Section 24 (1) as well as Section 24 (4) of the RTI Act.

“The upshot of the above discussion is that this court finds that the impugned notification insofar as it seeks to exempt the entire Vigilance Department from the purview of the RTI Act would run counter to the 1st proviso to Section 24 (4) of the RTI Act. In other words, the notification insofar as it prevents disclosure of information concerning the General Administration (Vigilance) Department even when it pertains to allegations of corruption and human rights violations would be contrary to the first proviso to Section 24 (4) of the RTI Act and, by that yardstick, would be unsustainable in law,” the Bench observed.

The Division Bench said the General Administration (Vigilance) Department could not refuse to divulge information pertaining to corruption and human rights violations, which information is expressly not protected from disclosure by virtue of the first proviso to Section 24 (4) of the RTI Act.

“Also, information that does not touch upon any of the sensitive and confidential activities undertaken by the Vigilance Department cannot be withheld,” it said.


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Printable version | Aug 4, 2022 8:40:46 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/bring-vigilance-directorate-under-rti-purview-orissa-hc/article65545929.ece