SVO conceals identity of tainted officials
Cites ‘Security Threat’ In Not Revealing Names Under RTI Act
Srinagar, Sep 13: Believe it or not! The State Vigilance Organization (SVO) has pleaded before the State Information Commission (SIC) that they cannot disclose the identities of the officials accused of corruption whose cases are awaiting formal sanction from the Government. The SVO has argued that revealing the names ‘would endanger their personal security in view of the adverse security scenario in the state.’
An order passed by State Information Commission reveals that “an argument has been made before this Commission that in view of adverse security scenario in the state, it would be endangering personal security and safety of the accused people if their names are disclosed and such disclosure reaches in the hands of some unscrupulous and violent elements who may cause some personal harm to the accused persons.”
According to the documents, Muhammad Ashraf Wani, an advocate of Jammu and Kashmir High Court, had filed an application under Right to Information Act before SVO seeking information about the cases in which the Vigilance had concluded investigation and was awaiting formal sanction from the competent authorities for prosecuting them.
Wani has sought detailed information about the cases and the officials involved and the departments to which they belonged to; date of sending cases for accord of the sanction and the loss incurred upon the State exchequer by these officials.
However, the Public Information Officer and First Appellate Authority of SVO refused to disclose the information saying that such disclosure would impede the process of investigation and invoked section 8 (G) of RTI Act- 2009 to support their claim.
After both PIO and FAA turned down the information, the aggrieved lawyer knocked the doors of SIC to get the requisite information from the anti-graft body.
However, the Chief Information Commissioner, G R Sufi, after hearing the arguments of both the sides turned down the plea of SVO that disclosure of the information would impede investigations.
“The SVO is functioning under state vigilance manual. Rule 6.147 of vigilance manual speaks about the final investigation report signed by the Commissioner of Vigilance. This report has already been sent to the competent authority. Hence, the information seeker has rightly asked the information not about those cases which are under the process of investigation, but information sought is with regard to those cases where investigation has been concluded and only pending requirement is sanction of the competent authority. Therefore, this Commission is of the considered opinion that this information is givable,” the order passed by CIC reads.
The CIC has also invoked recent landmark judgment in Dr. Subramanium Swami V/S Dr. Manmohan Singh and another in Civil appeal No.1193 of 2012 arising out of SLP (C) 27535 of 2010 to justify his decision.
“The Central Vigilance Commission has put up the names of all such officers whose cases have been referred to sanctioning authority for launching prosecution. This information has been uploaded more than two years back and is being reviewed from time to time,” the judgment further says.
However, conceding the plea of SVO that disclosure of the identities of the officials against whom sanction is awaited would put their lives in danger, the judgment reads the “Commission is sensitive on this argument of the SVO and hence information on all points except identities of the officials (against whom sanction is awaited) should be given to the applicant within 30 days.”
“In case of non-compliance, appellant’s attention is invited to Section 15 of the State RTI Act, 2009, wherein the right for filing complaint before this Commission has been given to him by the state legislature,” it further reads.
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Thu, 13 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Fri, 14 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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