CIC questions Govt on exempting DRDO from RTI ambit

New Delhi, June 19: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Centre to provide reasons to an information seeker on its decision to exempt Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) from the purview of the RTI Act.

The order came after the department of personnel and training (DoPT) failed to provide the information while responding to an application seeking among other details, the reasons for government's exclusion of DRDO from ambit of the transparency legislation.

"We find that Dopt has provided no reason for not responding to the specific question (seeking reasons for DRDO's exemption) in the application of the complainant N P Gupta," Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said in a recent order.

It directed DoPT's Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) to provide "the reasons that weighed with it in issuing the notification (thereby exempting DRDO from the RTI ambit)," to Gupta within a week.

The commission, however, refused to entertain Gupta's plea for the constitution of an inquiry to find out the legal validity of the government's decision to take DRDO beyond RTI's reach.

A Kanpur-resident Gupta had in his application filed on, September eight last year, sought to know the reasons for which DRDO was granted exemption under the act.

Referring to the vision and mission statement as mentioned in DRDO's website, the applicant stated that it was neither an intelligence nor a security organisation under the central government, and hence it should not be made immune from disclosure of information under the RTI act.

The DoPT in its response on October 10 last year had provided to Gupta a copy of the government's notification which had brought DRDO in the list of organisations mentioned in second schedule of the RTI Act.

The second schedule of the act specifies a list of intelligence and security organisations established by the Central government and which have been held to as beyond the RTI Act's purview.

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