Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Confidentiality Vs. Transparency Debate: Why govt wants CBI to be tight-lipped?

PRIME minister Manmohan Singh has indirectly asked the CBI to be tight-lipped, saying that confidentiality is in the interests of the integrity of an on-going investigation, and that is why the CBI has been placed outside the purview of the RTI Act. “What is almost as distressing is that sensitive investigations are increasingly becoming subjects of running media commentary, often on the basis of material that is not otherwise in the public domain…confidentiality is in the interests of the integrity of an ongoing investigation. This was precisely the…thought process behind exempting the CBI from the RTI Act. I hope that, as responsible professionals, you will be able to reflect on this issue in the correct perspective,” Prime Minister told the CBI sleuths while addressing at the international conference on “Evolving Common Strategies to Combat Corruption and Crime” in New Delhi on Monday.
In fact, the CBI has of late been quite open in updating its proceedings of high-profile cases, and director Ranjit Sinha is often quoted in media reports. Also, media reports quote unnamed CBI officials on matters which the government considers highly sensitive and politically disturbing for the party in power. PM’s comments could be seen in the backdrop of CBI’s latest transparency drives. The government seems to be unhappy that the CBI is asking for more autonomy and its brass is openly arguing for it publicly. “That the debate on autonomy has acquired political overtones is indeed unfortunate,” PM said adding that autonomy in investigation is already guaranteed. “We should be able to clearly distinguish between operational autonomy and the rules of oversight, supervision and control in organizational and institutional matters that are normal for public bodies of the Executive funded by public money,” PM said.
While the government wants the CBI to maintain confidentiality in the proceedings of the high-profile cases, it also wishes to package the steps it has taken to improve transparency in the government. Referring to Right to Information Act, Public Services Delivery Bill, and administrative steps undertaken to reduce discretionary powers of public servants etc., PM claimed that there exists a framework to curb corruption and increase transparency and accountability in public administration.

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