Kerala revokes RTI order on Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau
The Kerala government has ruled to remove the controversial order that spared the secret wing 'T' branch of the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau from the purview of the RTI. CM Chandy said that Director of the Bureau had been asked to revoke it. The annulment came after the Pradesh Congress chief VM Sudheeran put pressure on the Congress-led UDF government to withdraw its order.
Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) excluded from RTI's purview
The United Democratic Front (UDF) government in an order exempted the Vigilance and Anti-Corruption Bureau (VACB) from the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act. This meant that all "details or documents related to any probe against the Chief Minister, ministers, IAS and IPS officers, legislators, ex-ministers, and ex-legislators" would not be divulged under the RTI Act.
8 wings already exempted from RTI's purview
Since 2006, 8 wings of the Intelligence and Security Organisation of state police are exempted from RTI: 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.
Opposition condemns Chandy government over RTI decision
The Chandy government was severely attacked for its decision by CPI-M leader and opposition leader in the Kerala Assembly V S Achuthanandan. Attacking the government, CPI-M said this move was aimed at sabotaging the RTI so that the government's "true face" wouldn't be exposed. BJP state President Kummanom Rajasekharan too flayed the government saying Chandy was trying to "impose censorship."
All Vigilance Probes Not Exempt From RTI Act: CM
The United Democratic Front government clarified that only the 'T' branch of the VACB that deals with critical and sensitive investigations had been excluded and that all contrary propaganda was baseless. However, adding to Kerala government's embarrassment, Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee and BJP disagreed with the government's stance. KPCC President Sudheeran pressed CM Chandy to withdraw the notification.
What is the 'T' branch?
The 'T' branch of Anti-Corruption Bureau deals with important and varied investigations. Most of its investigations are carried out before filing cases (details of the investigations and complainants are not disclosed).
Government justifies exemption
Kerala government said that in 2010 and 2012, the then Vigilance Director had written seeking exemption of 'T' branch from the RTI Act. The government had then appointed a Vigilance Director to review the exemption-models followed in other states. Furthermore, the government had finally agreed to the Vigilance Director's demand only after seeking Advocate General's and Law Department's opinion on the matter.Share this timeline