'Why vigilance wing out of RTI purview', Orissa HC seeks reply from state government

The court was hearing the three petitions, which were filed separately by Subash Mohapatra, Sudhansu Kumar Nanda and Pradeep Pradhan in 2016.

Published: 03rd May 2022 12:45 PM  |   Last Updated: 03rd May 2022 12:45 PM   |  A+A-

Orissa High Court (Photo | EPS)

By Express News Service

CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Monday set a one-week deadline for the State government to submit a written note of arguments in connection with the dispute raised over dropping the Vigilance wing from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The court was hearing the three petitions, which were filed separately by Subash Mohapatra, Sudhansu Kumar Nanda and Pradeep Pradhan in 2016.

The State Information and Public Relations department had issued a notification on August 11, 2016 stating, "In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection 4 of section 24 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, the State government does hereby specify that nothing contained in the said Act shall apply to the General Administration (Vigilance) department and its organisation."

The contentions of the petitioners hinged on the argument that though the impugned notification was purportedly issued under Section 24 (4) of the RTI Act, the first provision stated that the information pertaining to corruption and human rights violation shall not be excluded by that yardstick.

Hence, the Vigilance Wing which is the nodal agency for probing cases of corruption by public servants cannot, therefore, be outside the purview of the RTI Act. The division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice RK Pattanaik sought the written note of arguments when the State counsel submitted arguments in the case.

No counter affidavits had been filed in response to notices issued in the petitions earlier. It was argued on behalf of the State government that a similar challenge to a notification on the same lines issued by the government of Tamil Nadu was rejected by the Madras High Court and sought time to file a detailed reply.

It was also pointed out that the Central government had excluded 26 organisations related to intelligence from the purview of RTI. But the State Vigilance is not an intelligence agency, the bench questioned.


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