JK Govt exempts CID from RTI Act purview

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Srinagar: Belying its tall claims of bringing transparency and accountability in the functioning of its administration, the Jammu and Kashmir government has exempted its Criminal Investigation Department from the purview of Right to Information Act.
Vide SRO 26 issued on 12th of this month, the General Administration Department, in exercise of powers conferred in it under section 21 of the Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act, 2009, the government specified the CID as an organization of the state under the Act.
Section 21 (1) of the J&K RTI Act allows the state government to put intelligence and security organizations out of the purview of the Act by virtue of a gazette notification for the purpose.
But in cases of corruption and human rights violations, the organization is still liable to provide information after the approval of the State Information Commission. However, as per section 21 (2) of the J&K RTI Act, every notification for exemption of any organization is to be tabled before each house of the state legislature.
Sources said the latest move of the state government would deprive the citizens to seek the status of their passport applications pending verification with the CID.
Pertinently, in view of militancy, passports under “Normal” and “Tatkal” categories are provided only after receipt of the “clear final police verification report, verifying and authenticating the antecedents as well as photographs of the applicants by the CID headquarters.”
So far, the passport applicants were successfully availing themselves of the RTI pleas to obtain timely verifications and final clearance which, otherwise, used to remain pending with the CID for a long time without even requiring the department to explain the reason for delay.
Ever since the Saudi government has prescribed the condition of a passport for intending Hajj and Umrah pilgrims from all over the world, the possession of the key facility has assumed an added significance. All those intending to perform the mandatory pilgrimage have to be in possession of a passport before they can be considered for the grant of such visa by the Saudi government.
It may be recalled a Kashmiri Pandit organization, Kashmiri Pandit Sangarsh Samiti, had recently questioned the rationale for black-listing 60,000 Muslim families of Jammu and Kashmir for purposes of CID clearance ahead of grant of passport facilities. In a statement, the KPSS said several separatist leaders had been provided the passports.
Tikoo asked why 60,000 families had been denied the CID clearance allegedly for supporting the separatist movement when its leaders had already been provided with the facility. He had even moved an application under RTI seeking the answers from the CID authorities.
“We received a response from the CID headquarters vide letter No: CID/GB/RTI/2012/07/1423 dated: 6th March 2012, in which our request has been rejected and it is being claimed that this particular information does not fall within the ambit of section 8 (a) of Jammu and Kashmir Right to Information Act 2009, despite that the information is being withheld,” he said, adding he did not understand for what reasons the information was being denied, as it did not come under section 8 (a) of J&K RTI Act 2009.
The move has evoked sharp reaction from various separatist leaders, including Hurriyat Conference (G) led by Syed Ali Shah Geelani.

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