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RAW, IB deny information under RTI in sexual harassment cases

June 30, 2010 16:27 IST

Country's intelligence agencies, Research and Analysis Wing and Intelligence Bureau, have refused to make public information related to any in-house case of sexual harassment in the last 10 years.

Both the agencies cited provisions under the Right to Information Act, which exempt them from disclosure of information, provided they are not related to allegations of human rights violation or corruption.

"...It is stated that the requisite information pertains to the Intelligence and Security Organisation under the Cabinet Secretariat... which is exempted from the purview of RTI Act... except on the grounds of allegations of human rights violation and corruption..." a reply from the chief public information officer of the Cabinet Secretariat, which controls the RAW, said in response to an RTI query.

"The information sought does not pertain to either of the two categories (human rights and corruption). In view of the above, the secretariat is, therefore, not under any obligation to disclose the information," it said.

RTI applicant Ashwini Shrivastava had sought information on cases related to allegations of sexual harassment, human rights violation and corruption reported against RAW and IB officers in the past 10 years.

The IB also denied the information on similar grounds.

"As per (certain) provisions of the RTI Act 2005, the Intelligence Bureau has been exempted from providing such information or detail. Hence it is regretted that the information sought cannot be provided," public information officer of IB said in its reply. Besides IB and RAW, 16 other organisations like the Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, the Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, the Directorate of Enforcement, the Narcotics Control Bureau, the Aviation Research Centre, the Special Frontier Force and seven central para-military forces are kept out of the ambit of the RTI Act.

The Crime Branch-Criminal Investigation Department-CB, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, the Special Branch of the Lakshadweep police, the Special Service Bureau and the Special Branch (CID), Andaman and Nicobar, are also exempted under the Act.

On August 19, 2008, RAW official Nisha Bhatia had allegedly attempted suicide before the prime minister's office claiming sexual harassment by her superiors.

Bhatia later filed a petition, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court for want of merit in her allegations.

The Central Information Commission has already held in one of its decision that sexual harassment amounts to human rights violation. While hearing one such matter related to Bhatia, the CIC has said "...This entire application centers on allegations of sexual harassment which is a material basis for allegations of human rights violation. We have on earlier occasion also held that overt gender discrimination amounts to violation of human rights."
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