Black Money SIT is Public Authority, Can be Scrutinised Under RTI Act, Says CIC

The CIC bench headed by Bimal Julka noted that the SIT is indeed performing a “pious public duty” of getting black money back to India, in larger interest of the nation.

Representative image (PTI)
New Delhi: The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing black money is not completely immune from the Right to Information Act, ruled the Central Information Commission (CIC).

In a significant verdict on Tuesday, the CIC declared the SIT a “public authority” under the RTI Act, which will have to appoint Information Officers to examine pertinent applications.

According to the order, the SIT, which is headed by retired SC Judge MB Shah, will have to receive RTI applications as a distinct public authority and decide applications on merit whether the information sought can be disclosed or not.

The CIC bench headed by Bimal Julka noted that the SIT is indeed performing a “pious public duty” of getting black money back to India, in larger interest of the nation.

“Considering the spirit of the RTI Act, 2005 and in light of the conditions laid down under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act, 2005, it would be just and appropriate to declare the SIT, a Public Authority more so for the reason that it was performing a pious public duty bestowed upon it by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India of bringing back the unaccounted money in foreign bank accounts by Indians or other entities operating in India,” said the CIC.

Testing the proposition on various parameters, the apex transparency panel was of the view that the SIT was a public authority, to be looked at from every angle.

“The SIT was wholly financed by government funds and was also provided with all material, legal, diplomatic and intelligence resources,” the CIC said.

It also emphasised that the information sought is held and available with the SIT itself, and therefore, it is necessary to declare it as a separate public authority to ensure that the other departments within the Department of Revenue are not reduced to mere Post Offices forwarding the RTI applications to the SIT.

Source: News18

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