16 Oct 2010

Give information about Black-Money: CIC

A full bench of the Central Information Commission in a recent decision [V.R. Chandran v. Directorate of Enforcement] has declared that it is incumbent upon the Directorate of Enforcement, Ministry of Finance, Government of India to provide information sought by the public in respect of black-money. Holding that the issues were of national importance and thus the Government could not be allowed to adopt a technical objection to ward of the request for information, the CIC directed the disclosure of information.

The Commission inter alia observed as under;
14. The issues, which have been raised in this RTI application, are serious and have understandably raised public concern. The Enforcement Directorate the principal agency ― of the government to check and undo illegal stashing away of money from the country ― has taken a rather technical position about disclosure of the information relating to it. Their position, briefly stated, is that they cannot either confirm or deny the media reports about the likely volume of black money stashed away in foreign banks illegally by Indian nationals. While this position is, doubtless, defensible, it leaves unanswered the perennial question as to what resources the country has lost to the evil of money laundering. We would like this matter to be taken beyond technicalities and to address the larger issue related to transparency in this vital field, about which the citizens of our country are keen for answers. 
15. While the Enforcement Directorate may take the position that they have no way of assessing the total volume of illegally held money by Indians in foreign banks, they can surely provide an estimate of the total volume of such money involved in the investigations they are presently conducting. In other words, the Enforcement Directorate can let the country know as to how much is the total sum of such money they are dealing with in their current investigations. This figure can be arrived at through the simple contrivance of aggregating the sums of money in all such investigations currently underway. The Enforcement Directorate need not disclose the nature of such investigations or the parties’ names. Surely, it is within its power to disclose the total amount of monies covered by these investigations.
16. Enforcement Directorate had strenuously argued before us that they stand exempted from disclosure obligation under RTI Act by virtue of their inclusion in the Second Schedule, under Section 24 of the RTI Act. We would like to dwell upon this aspect of argument in the context of a proviso built into the Section24 itself, i.e. that these exemptions are subject to their not being matters of “human rights violations” or “allegations of corruption”. In our view, all matters now investigated by the Enforcement Directorate in the matter of stashing away of Indian money in foreign banks, come within the definition of allegations of corruption in Section 24. There is eminent and compelling reason why this exception must be applied in the present case.

1 comment:

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