The Delhi High Court Monday issued notice in an application for vacation of stay moved by a former chief vigilance officer (CVO) at All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi, in connection with a case of alleged corruption at the institute which he had referred to Central Bureau Investigation (CBI).
Former CVO Sanjiv Chaturvedi challenged a July 29 order of the high court which stayed the Chief Information Commission’s (CIC) direction to the CBI to provide the information sought by him under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The counsel appearing for the respondent-applicant (Chaturvedi) submitted before a single-judge bench of Justice Yashwant Varma that the respondent is an “honest officer” and sought a closer date for hearing his application. The court directed the CBI to file a reply to the application moved by the respondent and listed the matter for hearing on December 14.
On November 25, 2019, the CIC directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) and the CBI to provide the information sought by Chaturvedi in the RTI application free of cost within 15 days from the date of receiving the order. The CIC held the CBI’s argument that the information cannot be provided as the RTI act does not apply to the agency “except where specific allegations of corruption and/or human rights violation have been made”.
The CIC had found that a prima facie case of allegation of corruption existed as Chaturvedi had sent reports to the CBI of “corrupt practices” prevailing at the institute. “CVO of any public authority is a watchdog to ensure transparency and prevent corrupt practices. CPIO has grossly erred in invoking the veil of Section 24 of RTI Act mechanically without assessing the nature of information sought and the same is viewed adversely by the Commission,” the impugned order stated.
However, the high court in its July order prima facie found merit in the CBI’s argument that the “material gathered in the course of investigation would not be liable to be disclosed under the Right to Information Act, 2005”.
The counsel for the CBI submitted that the agency is controlled by the Delhi Special Police Establishment Act, 1946, and is answerable only to the Central Vigilance Commission (CVC). “Matter requires consideration. Till the next date, there shall be stay of the impugned order dated 25 November 2019,” the court had held.