THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Chief Minister Oommen Chandy has termed as baseless reports that the government was attempting to exempt vigilance inquiries against the Chief Ministers and other ministers from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
On the contrary, the government has taken steps to prevent harassment of the public for raising complaints against people holding high offices, a release from the Chief Minister’s office said.
KPCC president V M Sudheeran and Opposition Leader V S Achuthanandan had expressed reservations over the government’s alleged move to exempt Vigilance Department from the purview of RTI Act.
With a lot of misinformation being spread about exemption from RTI Act, the cabinet will meet on Wednesday and discuss the matter, Chandy said.
The government decided to exempt the secret ‘T’ branch of the Vigilance Department from the purview of RTI in the wake of repeated demands from the Vigilance and Anti Corruption Bureau.
The T Branch of Vigilance undertakes many crucial investigations even before registering cases. If the details of the complainant or investigation details are shared through RTI it will affect the outcome of the investigation, the Chief Minster said.
In the wake of complainants being harassed and investigation details being compromised, the government took the decision to exempt the ‘T’ branch.
Eight wings of the Intelligence and Security Organisation of state police have already been exempted from the purview of RTI since 2006.
The exempted agencies include Special Branch, CID, Crime Branch CID, Special Branch, Crime Records Bureau, Police Telecommunication, confidential branches in police headquarters and other offices, forensic science labs and fingerprint bureau.
In 2010 and 2012, the then Vigilance Director wrote to the government recommending that the T branch of Vigilance should also be exempted from the RTI Act.
The government had directed the Vigilance Director to examine the models followed in other states. Though the Tamil Nadu government had exempted the entire Vigilance Department from RTI, the then Vigilance Director recommended that only the ‘T’ branch needed exemption.
It was after seeking the opinion of the Law Department and the Advocate General that the government finally agreed to the Vigilance Director’s demand, the release said.
T’Puram: KPCC president V M Sudheeran on Saturday demanded Chief Minister Oommen Chandy to withdraw the notification issued to exclude the VACB from the purview of the Right to Information Act. His demand adds fuel to the stand off between the government and major factions in the Congress, triggered by the Karuna estate row. Incidentally, the demand coincides with a similar one put forward by Opposition Leader V S Achuthananandan on the same day, on Saturday. In a letter to the Chief Information Commissioner, VS had sought the summoning of related files and the review of the decision