Govt keeps Natgrid, NIA out of RTI ambit

first_imgHere’s another blow to transparency in the government. After exempting the CBI, the government has now pushed the National Intelligence Grid (Natgrid) and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) out of the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.Putting Natgrid in the list of organisations exempted from making disclosures under the RTI Act will certainly fuel concerns as a citizen would not be able to seek details on whether any of his databases have been accessed by the investigating agencies through Natgrid.With the inclusion of Natgrid, NIA and CBI in the second schedule to the RTI Act – a decision which was made official through a gazette notification on June 9 – there are now 25 ‘intelligence and security’ organisations which are exempted from providing any information under the RTI Act, except information pertaining to allegations on any corruption and human right violations.To start off in 2005, the second schedule had 18 organisations on its list, which grew to 22 in 2008 and to 25 presently.Most of the 11 agencies which can access the Natgrid for getting database information on a citizen are also already exempted from the RTI Act.A government source said Natgrid needed to be kept out of the RTI purview because most of the 11 agencies authorised to access databases through the Natgrid are already exempted from RTI. “So anyway if a citizen wants to know if the Intelligence Bureau (IB) asked for any information on his bank account database through the Natgrid, the information cannot be disclosed as IB is an exempt organisation. Natgrid is not an organisation but only a forwarding tool and like an extended server of these 11 agencies,” the source said.advertisementSupreme Court lawyer and cyber law expert, Pawan Duggal, however, said the decision to exempt Natgrid from the RTI Act only strengthened the ‘Big Brother’ concept. “Its a huge setback to transparency. It’s like a blackout. We agree that national sovereignty is paramount but that is not tantamount to removing all levels of transparency,” he said.For more news on India, click here.For more news on Business, click here.For more news on Movies, click here.For more news on Sports, click here.last_img