A Kerala government notification exempting vigilance probe against chief minister, minister and senior bureaucrats from the purview of the RTI Act has come under sharp criticism.
Ruling Congress state president V M Sudheeran and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan have asked CM Oommen Chandy to immediately withdraw the notification. Achuthanandan has written to Chief Information Commission (CIC) Siby Mathews to intervene in the matter.
In the notification issued last month, the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau has asked all information officers and appellate authorities that details or documents related to any probe against the chief minister, ministers, IAS and IPS officers, legislators, ex-ministers, and ex-legislator need not be divulged under the RTI Act.
So, details regarding probe into corruption cases involving the bureaucracy and political leadership are to be transferred to the “top secret section”, which has been conferred the power to not disclose information under sub-section (4) of Section 24 of RTI Act. Also, correspondence from vigilance to Central Vigilance Commission, Lokpal, Lokayukta and CBI would come under secret section.
Achuthanandan has said that at a time when the CM and his Cabinet colleagues were facing several corruption cases, the notification was meant only to hush up their deals. He added that the sub section 4 of Section 24 of the Act was applicable only for intelligence and security agencies.
Chandy’s office, in a communication, said the next Cabinet meeting would discuss the issue against the backdrop of a debate that vigilance has been exempted from the purview of RTI Act.