The Uttarakhand government on Thursday issued a notification to declare the state Vigilance Department as an “intelligence organisation”, which in effect will exclude it from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The government issued the notification stating that the Governor has given assent to declare “vigilance department” and “vigilance establishment” as “Intelligence Organisation.”
According to officials, by declaring Vigilance department and establishment as intelligence organisation, both are exempted from the RTI Act.
Additional Chief Secretary Radha Raturi issued the notification, within a week of the state Cabinet giving approval to a proposal in this regard.
Sources said the proposal will be tabled in the Assembly. A three-day session of the House is scheduled to begin from September 23 in Dehradun.
While the Vigilance Department works at the government level in the Secretariat, where an IAS officer, as secretary of the department, headed it up to now, the Vigilance Establishment registers cases of corruption and investigates in the field. An IPS officer headed it as director.
The 2nd schedule of the RTI Act provides a list of 26 organisations that are exempted from providing information on grounds of being intelligence and security organisations. Section 24 of the Act states: “The Central government has the authority to amend the 2nd schedule from time to time, thereby adding, removing or substituting organisations present…. The state government has a similar authority and is authorised to exempt an intelligence and security organisation by issuing a notification in the official gazette.”
It states that both the Centre and state governments are “required to present the said notification before their respective legislatures”.
A state Vigilance official said that exemption of the department from RTI was required because people were collecting information through RTI to affect ongoing investigations — to “influence inquiries against themselves and malign the image of others” for personal interest.