The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) refused to share details of black money brought back from abroad within 15 days, citing a provision of the RTI Act that bars disclosure of information that may impede investigation and prosecution of offenders.
Notably, its response came to a Central Information Commission (CIC) order asking the PMO to provide details of black money brought back from abroad within 15 days. Replying to an RTI application filed by Sanjiv Chaturvedi, PMO said that a Special Investigation Team (SIT) has already been formed and its investigation is underway.
“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,” the PMO said.
The PMO further stated that such investigations come under the purview of different government intelligence and security organisations which have been excluded from the ambit of the RTI Act.
Chaturvedi, an Indian Forest Service (IFoS) officer, had sought information on the quantum of black money brought from abroad since June 1, 2014. He had moved the CIC after the PMO in its initial reply to the RTI inquiry in October last year said the query was not covered under Section 2(f) of the transparency law that defines information. But last month, the CIC ordered the PMO to provide information within 15 days.
Responding to another query mentioned in the Chaturvedi’s application, the PMO 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”.
According to a study by US-based think-tank Global Financial Integrity (GFI), an estimated $770 billion in black money entered India during 2005-2014. Nearly $165 billion in illicit money exited the country during the same period, PTI quoted a report by the global financial watchdog.