RTI activists on Sunday criticised the Odisha government for exempting the Vigilance Department from the purview of Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.
Odisha Soochana Adhikar Abhijan, an outfit spearheading a movement for wide use of RTI in the state, said they would meet Governor S.C. Jamir to seek his intervention to direct the state government to withdraw the decision.
"The state government has committed a blunder. RTI Act stands for transparency, but the government with a vested interest has tried to encourage corruption. It is now crystal clear that the government is using the Vigilance Department for political purposes," said Pradip Pradhan, convenor of the outfit.
Information and Public Relations (I&PR) department had issued a notification on August 11 exempting the Vigilance Department from the purview of RTI.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (4) of Section 24 of the RTI Act, the state government do hereby specify that nothing contained in the said Act shall apply to the General Administration (Vigilance) Department and its organisation," said the notification.
Defending the government’s decision, Information and Public Relations secretary Manoranjan Panigrahi said, "Applications are often received through RTI asking for details of people who undergo Vigilance raid or their personal assets. It becomes difficult for us to provide such information as the confidentiality gets lost. Therefore, the government approved the change."