Chennai: Former Revenue Secretary M.R. Sivaraman, known for his upright conduct as an efficient civil servant, has alleged high corruption at the Enforcement Directorate in going slow on a foreign exchange scam unearthed by the agency during his tenure. His fear is based on the ED's information officer rejecting his RTI application seeking the status of the 1994-95 case involving a Mumbai branch of the South Indian Bank that unfolded a foreign exchange drain of over Rs.770 crore and bared connection with the diamond industry-much like the present Nirav Modi scam.
“I had recently sent my RTI application to ED deputy director A.K. Kaushal, who is the RTI official at the agency, wanting to know what happened to that case, which was investigated by the ED teams when I was in charge as the Revenue Secretary. I was worried as no action appeared to have resulted through all these years and now this Nirav-Choksi scam broke out bringing to me the nightmare of that 94-95 case. I got the shock of my life when I got the reply from Kaushal yesterday (March 12) saying they cannot provide information under Section 24 read with second schedule of the RTI Act, which exempts certain organizations from the purview of the Act”, Sivaraman told DC.
“I have been the Revenue Secretary for four years and I have done enough work there to know the importance of a case and the critical need to see it is pursued with all vigour to its logical end. This RTI query has nothing to threaten national security and if they still hide behind Section 24, there is every possibility they would say the same thing about this Nirav Modi case 20 years later, after sitting on it”, said the former IAS officer.
“It is absolutely ridiculous that a case of foreign exchange manipulation had anything to do with national security as I myself had dealt with the case. It clearly shows that the organisation has not been pursuing this case till its logical conclusion. It is very clear they are making money on the case. This is how the Government of India is functioning”, said Sivaraman, adding, “I am going to take my RTI to the appellate authority”.
Section 24 in The Right To Information Act, 2005
This does not to apply to certain organisations like intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule, being organisations established by the Central Government or any information furnished by such organisations to that Government: Provided that the information pertaining to the allegations of corruption and human rights violations shall not be excluded under this sub-section, Provided further that in the case of information sought for is in respect of allegations of violation of human rights, the information shall only be provided after the approval of the Central Information Commission, and notwithstanding anything contained in Section 7, such information shall be provided within forty-five days from the date of the receipt of request.
The Intelligence and security organisations established by the Central Government include among others: Intelligence Bureau, Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Central Economic Intelligence Bureau, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau....