What are the exemptions under RTI Act? How do these exemptions impact the citizen's fundamental right to information?
Right to information act 2005 provides for timely disclosure of information by citizens from both central and State Public Authorities. The act seeks to empower citizens and promote accountability and transparency.
The exemptions under RTI Act
- Section 24of the RTI Act 2005 lays down that this law is not applicable to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule. However, the only exception these organisations have is for information on allegations of corruption and human rights violations
- Second Schedule:It includes 26 intelligence and security agencies under its ambit. Some of them are (i) Intelligence Bureau (IB), (ii) Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Cabinet Secretariat (iii) Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), (iv) Special Frontier Force (SFF), (v) Border Security Force (BSF) (vi) National Security Guards (NSG) and (Vii) Assam Rifles
- Section 8of the RTI: It deals with exemption from disclosure of information under this legislation. As per this section there shall be no obligation on Government to provide any citizen information, disclosure which will affect (i) India’s sovereignty and integrity, (ii) security, (iii) strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state and (iv) relations with foreign States or (v) will lead to incitement of an offence
Impact of these exceptions
- CBI and IB have used this exception as blanket cover overlooking the condition in which exemptions do not apply and are resistant to provide information.
- This restricts right to information of citizens.
- The provision is used as blanket immunity by intelligence agencies to violate human rights coupled with lack of parliamentary oversight.
- Exemptions promote culture of secrecy as terms like economic interest are not defined thus are vulnerable to abuse by officials who may not disclose information.