Hearing deferred on – Details of Vajpayee-K.R. Narayanan letters sought under Information Act
Posted by rtiact2005 on July 13, 2006
|Details of Vajpayee-K.R. Narayanan letters sought under Information Act|
NEW DELHI: The Central Information Commission (CIC) on Tuesday postponed a scheduled hearing of an appeal filed against the decision of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) to refuse to disclose details of correspondence between former President K.R. Narayanan and former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots to an applicant under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. A hearing before all four Central Information Commissioners to decide on the appeal was scheduled for Tuesday but was postponed to June 21 following a request from the DoPT.
The appellant, C. Ramesh, from Vellore had filed an RTI application requesting the DoPT to disclose the contents of the correspondence between Narayanan and Mr. Vajpayee between February 28, 2002 and March 15, 2002.
In his application, Mr. Ramesh said he had based his request on media reports that Mr. Vajpayee had not sent Army personnel to Gujarat to contain the riots despite receiving written requests from Narayanan.
Both the Public Information Officer (PIO) and the First Appellate Authority in the DoPT had rejected the applicant’s request by citing the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) Government’s refusal to disclose information related to the correspondence between Narayanan and Mr. Vajpayee to the Justice G.T. Nanavati-Justice K.G. Shah Commission of Inquiry probing the Godhra train carnage and post-Godhra communal riots in Gujarat. The UPA Government had claimed privilege before the Nanavati-Shah Commission under Sections 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act and Article 74(2) of the Constitution read with Article 78 and Article 361 of the Constitution.
The DoPT also said that it was exempt from disclosing the information requested under Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act. It exempts the disclosure of information that would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State.
The appellant argued that the RTI Act overruled the exemption on the ground of privileged communication under Section 123 and 124 of the Indian Evidence Act. He said that Article 74(2), 78 and 361 of the Constitution do not state that correspondence between the President and Prime Minister cannot be disclosed. He also said that Section 8 (1) (a) of the RTI Act would not cover such an exemption.