Despite CIC orders, PMO refuses to give info on blackmoney brought from abroad

By: | Published: November 25, 2018 8:56 PM

The Prime Minister's Office has refused to share details on the quantum of blackmoney brought back from abroad, citing a provision of the RTI Act that bars disclosure of information that may impede investigation and prosecution of offenders.

PMO, blackmoney, RTI Act , Central Information Commission, Global Financial IntegrityThe PMO?s response came after the Central Information Commission, in an order passed on October 16, had asked it to provide details on blackmoney within 15 days.

The Prime Minister’s Office has refused to share details on the quantum of blackmoney brought back from abroad, citing a provision of the RTI Act that bars disclosure of information that may impede investigation and prosecution of offenders. The PMO’s response came after the Central Information Commission, in an order passed on October 16, had asked it to provide details on blackmoney within 15 days.

Replying to an RTI query, the PMO said a Special Investigation Team is investigating the matter. “As such, disclosure of all the action/efforts undertaken by the government at this juncture may impede the whole process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders and hence would attract the provision of exemption under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act,” it said in response to the RTI application filed by whistle-blower bureaucrat Sanjiv Chaturvedi in August last year.

Furthermore, such investigations come under the purview of different government intelligence and security organisations which have been excluded from the ambit of the RTI Act, the PMO reply said. Chaturvedi, an officer of the Indian Forest Service, had sought the information on the quantum of blackmoney brought from abroad since June 1, 2014.

In its initial reply to the RTI application, the PMO in October last year denied the information, saying that these are not covered under Section 2(f) of the transparency law which defines information. Aggrieved over the denial from the PMO, Chaturvedi had moved the Central Information Commission, which had last month ordered it to provide information within 15 days. There is, at present, no official assessment on the quantum of blackmoney in India and abroad.

According to a study by US-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI), an estimated USD 770 billion in blackmoney entered India during 2005-2014. Nearly USD 165 billion in illicit money exited the country during the same period, the report by the global financial watchdog said. In response to another query mentioned in Chaturvedi’s application, the PMO also refused to share details of corruption complaints received against Union ministers, saying providing such information “may be a subjective as well as a cumbersome exercise”.

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