CBI has refused to disclose an FIR registered against gangster Chhota Rajan for adopting alleged corrupt practices to obtain a passport by providing fake details, saying it is exempt from the Right to Information Act.
The transparency law, however, makes it clear that even exempt organisations are covered under the RTI Act when the information sought (any material in any form held by or under the control of an authority) pertains to allegations of corruption. It does not make any distinction whether the allegations are against an authority, its staff or not. According to law, the only condition to be seen is whether the authority has the information in its control.
But CBI, after being inducted in the list of exempted organisations, is citing Section 24 of the RTI Act to deny any kind of information even if it is related to allegations of corruption.
Activist Venkatesh Nayak said that when he approached CBI seeking the details of the FIR against Rajan in which allegations related to corruption have been levelled, the agency cited Section 24 of RTI Act to reject the application after 49 days. “As such, the RTI Act is not applicable to CBI,” the agency said.
Nayak said that the proviso under Section 24 makes it clear that even exempt organisations must provide information about allegations of corruption. “According to the media report attached to the RTI application, the FIR is said to have been registered under Prevention of Corruption Act (PoCA). “Clearly, no FIR would have been registered suo motu under the provisions of PoCA if the CBI were not investigating a case of corruption involving issuance of the allegedly fake passport by officials of the Indian Mission in Sydney. By CBI’s own admission, there is an allegation of corruption,” he said.
Underworld don Rajan was brought to India in November last year from the Indonesian tourist city of Bali by a joint team headed by CBI officials to face trial in over 70 cases of murder, extortion and drug smuggling in Delhi and Mumbai. The 55-year-old gangster, whose real name is Rajendra Sadashiv Nikalje, was deported after being on the run for 27 years following his arrest in Bali on October 25, 2015.Ahead of his arrival in India, Maharashtra government, in a surprise announcement, had said it was handing over all the cases related to the underworld don to CBI as the agency had expertise in handling such cases.