CIC pulls up ED for taking shield under RTI exemption clause in sexual exploitation matter
The CIC has directed the Enforcement Directorate to disclose all the information sought by an alleged sexual exploitation victim in the probe agency and pulled it up for taking refuge under the RTI exemption clause without going into merits of the application.
"It is unfortunate that the respondent public authority had consistently taken recourse to the provisions under Section 24 without examining the nature of information sought by the applicants," Information Commissioner Bimal Julka said.
He was deciding the plea of a legal adviser in the Enforcement Directorate, an organisation exempted from disclosures under the RTI except matters pertaining to allegations of human rights violations and corruption.
The adviser had sought details of action taken on her complaint of sexual exploitation against her senior which was denied to her by the Directorate citing exemptions given to it under Section 24 of the RTI Act.
Defending the denial, the ED told the Information Commissioner the alleged victim's RTI application and the first appeal was rejected since there was no corruption or human right issue involved since the appellant had merely sought administrative information regarding the implementation of the order passed by the Department of Revenue in the complaint against the official mentioned in the RTI application.
"On being queried by the Commission regarding the reason why the appellant (victim) being the complainant herself in the present matter was not entitled to seek the information, no satisfactory response was offered by the respondent (Revenue Department). Similarly, when questioned about the existence of human rights violation in cases of sexual harassment, no satisfactory answer was offered by the respondent," Julka noted.
He directed the Revenue Department and the Enforcement Directorate to disclose all information sought by the appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of the order.
The contention of the ED seeking protection under Section 24 of the RTI Act, 2005 is untenable and unjustified in relation to the definition of Human Rights as enshrined in the order of the Supreme Court order in Nirbhaya case and Delhi High Court order in a CBI case, he said.
"It is unfortunate that the respondent public authority had consistently taken recourse to the provisions under Section 24 without examining the nature of information sought by the applicants. Such judicial flirtations taking protection under Section 24 of the Act was unwarranted," Julka added.