The Allahabad High Court has ruled that the Lokayukta is within the purview of the Right to Information Act, quashing a 2012 notification that kept the anti-corruption ombudsmen out of the transparency law’s ambit.
Rejecting the plea of the government counsel that the notification was just and lawful, the Lucknow bench of the high court struck it down holding that it was beyond the authority of the state and was issued in an illegal manner.
The notification was issued on August 3, 2012 by the then Samajwadi Party Government.
The bench comprising justices Sudhir Agrawal and Virendra Kumar II passed the order on Thursday on a writ petition by social activist Nutan Thakur.
The bench was concerned that Lokayukta agency was a forum for complaints against bureaucrats and hence information seekers may do good by bringing the information to public regarding the status of inquiries about such alleged wrong doers.
It advocated that the state should make laws for forfeiture of properties collected by wrong doings.
The petitioner had challenged the notification contending that exclusion of Lokayukta agency in exercise of power under Section 24 of the RTI Act was illegal and arbitrary as Lokayukta agency was not an intelligence or security organisation under the provision.
Allowing the petition, the bench said that after going through the entire Uttar Pradesh Lokayukta and Up-Lokayuktas Act 1975, it did not find that Lokayukta agency was an intelligence or security organisation or institution.
“Therefore, in our view notification of August 3, 2012 is an unlawful and illegal exercise on the part of State Government, hence we strike it down as illegal and beyond the authority of ‘State’ as also being outside the purview of Section 24(4) of RTI Act 2005,” observed the bench.
Section 24(4) of the RTI Act provides that nothing contained in the RTI Act shall apply to intelligence and security organisation as that government may specify from time to time by notification in the official gazette. However, cases related to corruption and human rights violation are liable for disclosure.
( Source – PTI )