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Hearing deferred on – Details of Vajpayee-K.R. Narayanan letters sought under Information Act

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 13, 2006

Hearing deferred

Staff Correspondent

http://www.hindu.com/2006/07/12/stories/2006071204191500.htm

Details of Vajpayee-K.R. Narayanan letters sought under Information Act

 

 


  • Appellant’s plea based on reports that Mr. Vajpayee sent no Army personnel to Gujarat despite Narayanan’s requests
  • DoPT cites Government claim of privilege before Nanavati-Shah Commission

     

    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.

    Applicant’s contention

    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.

    Request rejected

    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.

    DoPT’s contention

    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.

  • 2 Responses to “Hearing deferred on – Details of Vajpayee-K.R. Narayanan letters sought under Information Act”

    1. In a demrocratic country it should be fudamental right of citizen to know the status of schemes, plans, projects implemented by government authority at any instant. The Goverment also responsible to supply government data on demand…after 57th year of Indian independent the RTI act 2005 is to be considered as a mileston of democratic India and it also help the citizen involvement in government works directly.

      Debendra Hazarika
      CIC Operator, Telahi
      Lakhimpur, Assam

    2. C.Ramesh said

      The CIC heared the matter on 21st July and reserved its order. A Full Bench of the Commission heard in detail the plea of Ramesh, via vido-conferencing.

      On behalf of the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasharan claimed the letters written by Constitutional functionaries like the President enjoyed an “absolute immunity from disclosure” under Article 361 of the Constitution.

      He said the communication between the President and the Prime Minister were beyond the ken of courts.

      During the hearing, the DoPT, however, briefed the panel that the letters came to about 15 pages and were dated between February 28 to March 15 of 2002.

      Appellant’s counsel Prashant Bhushan said greater public interest would be served by disclosing the letters.

      The Full Bench of the Commission comprising Chief Central Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and Central Information Commissioners OP Kejariwal, Padma Subramaniam and M.M.Ansari was expected to pass its order within a week.

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