Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Jaitley denied info on ‘Q’ bank freeze

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 4, 2006

Jaitley denied info on ‘Q’ bank freeze 8/4/2006 12:53:29 AM

– By Our Special Correspondent

New Delhi, Aug. 3: The Central Information Commission examined and rejected an application by former minister Arun Jaitley seeking the documents relating to the freezing and de-freezing of Mr Ottavio Quattrocchi’s bank accounts under the Right to Information Act.

The public information officer of the CBI rejected the application on the grounds that the matter was sub judice and disclosing the information would impede the process of investigation and prosecution of the offenders. Mr Jaitley appealed against the decision, but the appellate authority rejected the appeal on the same grounds.

When Mr Jaitley appealed a second time, this time to the Central Information Commission, his appeal was again rejected by the commission as information commissioner M.M. Ansari upheld the decision of the appellate authority and rejected Mr Jaitley’s appeal.

When asked, Mr Jaitley refused to comment on the decision. He said he had not seen the decision and would comment only after he had done so, and after he had decided his course of action.

Mr Jaitley had asked for all correspondence exchanged till date between the Crown Prosecution Service of the United Kingdom and the CBI pertaining to the freezing and de-freezing of Mr Quattrocchi’s bank accounts, and all information pertaining to the visit of Mr B. Dutta, additional solicitor-general of India, and other persons accompanying him, to London in December 2005 in this connection.

All information was also sought regarding the course of action followed by the CBI pursuant to the judgment dated May 31, 2005 delivered by Justice R.S. Sodhi of the Delhi high court in Criminal Revision No. 272 of 2004, titled “Prakash P. Hinduja vs State through CBI”, including opinion dated 7.10 rendered by Mr K.P. Pathak, additional solicitor-general of India, on the said issue, and the records pertaining to the seeking of the said opinion.

In his decision, the commissioner said, “The fact that the appellant, a member of Parliament and former minister, has sought access to public records surely adds to the credence of the successful implementation of the RTI Act.”

But the commissioner also cautioned the CBI to expedite investigations into the matter as exemptions from disclosure of information would be available to them only for 20 years and the agency has been investigating the case for nearly 16 years without much success.

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