The explanation not only goes against the preamble of the Act, which says that an informed citizenry is vital to hold governments and their instrumentalities accountable, but also contravenes Section 24 of RTI Act under which CBI has been included in the list of exempted organisations by the previous UPA government, which was facing serious corruption charges probed by the agency.
    
Recently, CBI has even started returning RTI applications citing the exemption clause despite clear orders from the CIC and its former director, A P Singh.
    
Section 24 says that nothing in the Act will apply to exempted organisations provided the "information" sought by an application pertaining to allegations of corruption is not excluded under it.
    
The definition of "information" says it is "any material in any form held by or under the control" of a public authority and, as per the definition, it may not necessarily be about the organisation from which the information was sought.
    
The agency, while challenging the order of Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra through a writ petition before Delhi High Court, apparently misconstrued the clause which exempts it from the RTI Act by only highlighting the portion of it which goes in its favour.
    
Experts are of the view that the Right to Information Act is not about records of an organisation or its employees. The Act is about any information which is "held by or under the control" of a public authority.
    
"A citizen can demand the information (any material in any form held by or under the control of a public authority) from CBI if it pertains to allegations of corruption. The claim that it will give information only where allegations are against its employees is a complete abuse of the law," said noted activist Venkatesh Nayak.

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