Central Information Commission Law & Legal News :


Central Information Commission held that SIT on black money a "public authority"under the RTI Act, must provide relevant information to public



New Delhi, Oct. 11, 2017 : The Central Information Commission has held that the Supreme Court appointed Special Investigation Team on black money is answerable under the RTI Act. It was constituted by the government to investigate all matters relating to black money is a ‘public authority’ under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005. Therefore, it must be brought under greater scrutiny of the public.

 

In a significant verdict on Tuesday, the CIC declared the SIT a "public authority" under the RTI Act, while on hearing a complaint filed by Venkatesh Nayak of the NGO Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) the CIC held that the SIT was a public authority and must provide relevant information to the public as per the RTI rules. It directed the SIT to appoint a Chief Public Information Officer (CPIO) and First Appellate Authority (FAA) toward this purpose.


According to the order, the SIT, which is headed by retired SC Judge MB Shah, will have to receive RTI applications as a distinct public authority and decide applications on merit whether the information sought can be disclosed or not.

The CIC bench headed by Bimal Julka noted that the SIT is indeed performing a "pious public duty" of getting black money back to India, in larger interest of the nation.

 

"The SIT was wholly financed by government funds and was also provided with all material, legal, diplomatic and intelligence resources," the CIC said.

 

Mr. Nayak had sought information from the SIT regarding letters written by former HSBC Geneva employee Herve Falciani to its Chairman, but the Department of Revenue that handled the complaint denied him the information.

 

In December, 2015, the CPIO of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) and the Deputy Commissioner of Income Tax (Officer on Special Duty) had, in a letter to Mr. Nayak, denied information on submissions of Mr. Falciani to the SIT citing section 8(1)(e) & 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.

 

Mr. Nayak approached the CIC not to seek the information denied, but rather to challenge the competence of the CPIO, CBDT to make a decision in a matter that was not under his charge.

 

The First Appellate Authority (FAA) of the Department of Revenue upheld the CPIO’s rejection order but directed that the entire RTI application be sent to the Black Money SIT for making a decision.

 

 


News Courtesy: PIB | Hindu | DC | LE | LI | LO | IE | LL | PTI | ht | ET | UNI | DNA | FP |Jurist | Last updated: 06:30 pm
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