Why report on Sanjiv Chaturvedi be not made public, CIC asks IB

New Delhi: Central Information Commission has issued a notice to Intelligence Bureau, an organisation exempted from the transparency law except in some cases, asking it to explain why its report on alleged harassment of whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi by officials be not made public.

Whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi
Whistleblower IFS officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi

“The Intelligence Bureau is one of the organisations specified in Second Schedule to the RTI Act u/s 24, exempting it from purview of RTI Act except when CIC considered that the information sought is either related to corruption or violation of human rights by that organisation,” Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu held.

He noted that the applicant has stated that the information sought is relating to alleged violation of human rights.

Acharyulu said even if IB had objected to sharing of its report, gist of which is already in public domain, the Ministry of Environment and Forest could have given a copy of it to Sanjiv Chaturvedi.

“Even though the organisation/IB is totally exempted under section 24, this kind of information could be furnished by IB. As per second proviso to section 24, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission. Hence the applicant approached the Commission seeking approval for disclosure of IB report mentioned above,” he noted.

Chaturvedi, who exposed alleged forestry scam in Haryana, had sought the copy of IB report, which was sent to Cabinet Secretary and the Ministry of Environment and Forests in August, 2014, on the issue of allegedly “foisting false cases against him in retaliation of his investigation and reports against major corruption in the state”.

Intelligence Bureau being an exempted organisation except in cases of allegations of human rights violations or corruption refused to make it public.

The summary of IB report provided to him stated, “There appears to be truth in the contention of Sanjiv Chaturvedi regarding alleged harassment meted out to him by Haryana Government. His request for change of cadre from Haryana to Uttarakhand merits consideration.”

Acharyulu said it is no more a matter of secrecy. It has come in public domain with extensive media coverage, RTI application and responses thereof and that applicant exposed afforestation scandal involving several politicians and bureaucrats leading to suspension of 40 public servants.

The Information Commissioner said he is a whistle blower indeed, who faced wrath of corrupt public officers and became victim of several kinds of harassments.

“By objecting to disclosure of its IB report, the IB, the applicant alleged, has violated his human right, right to information. Hence the information sought, certified copy of their report regarding applicant, is relating to alleged violation of human rights.

“He says that the information sought would help him in fighting against violation of his human rights caused by some public servants whose corruption he exposed as part of his duties as IFS officer,” he said.

He said the Commission considers that applicant has made out a prima facie case for admission of this application urgency of hearing the matter under Section 24 and hence directs to issue notice of hearing to the IB requiring them to send a responsible officer to present their case.

“The IB office can either send their representation in the form of an affidavit or authorise the representing officer to make oral submission.

“The IB can also examine the need of the applicant and, if convinced, can furnish the certified copy of IB report sought, or withdraw objection to sharing of it, allowing the MoEF to release a copy of the same to the applicant, and send the Commission a compliance report, in which case there will be no necessity of next hearing,” he said.