Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

CIC seeks correspondence between Vajpayee and Narayanan

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 10, 2006

CIC seeks correspondence between Vajpayee and Narayanan

Legal Correspondent

http://www.hindu.com/2006/08/10/stories/2006081007991200.htm

“Difficult to understand on what grounds information was denied”

 

 


  • Commission quotes several decisions of Supreme Court in its support
  • Sensitivity of the matter has been admitted by all concerned

     

    New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has directed the Centre to produce in a sealed cover the letters between the former President, K.R. Narayanan, and the former Prime Minister, A.B. Vajpayee, relating to the 2002 Gujarat riots, for perusal to decide whether or not to make them public.

    The Commission passed this interim order on an appeal filed by C. Ramesh of Vellore for a direction to the Government to disclose the contents of the correspondence exchanged between the two .

    The stand of the Government was that the entire correspondence between Narayanan and Mr. Vajpayee being fully protected under Article 74 (2) of the Constitution was exempted from disclosure under the Right to Information Act (RIA) and the Constitution. The decision not to disclose the information was taken with utmost responsibility. This correspondence was exchanged during a critical time in a State and any disclosure of the same would result in damage to the public interest.

    Rejecting this contention, the Commission quoting several decisions of the Supreme Court said: “It may be inferred that Article 74 (2), 78 and 361 of the Constitution do not per se entitle the public authorities to claim “privilege” from disclosure. Now since the RIA has come into force, whatever immunity from disclosure could have been claimed by the State under the law, stands virtually extinguished, except on the ground explicitly mentioned under Section 8 and in some cases under Section 11 of the RIA.”

    The Commission said: “It is difficult to understand as to on what grounds the information has been denied. It is also difficult to comprehend as to how the disclosure of the information is going to affect the strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State. It appears that the denial has been communicated in a mechanical manner.”

    “Prima facie, the correspondence involves a sensitive matter of public interest. The sensitivity of the matter and involvement of a larger public interest has also been admitted by all concerned including the appellant. We consider it appropriate, that, before taking a final decision on this appeal, we should personally examine the documents to decide whether larger public interest would require disclosure of the documents in question or not.”

    The Commission said after examining the documents it would consider whether it would be in public interest to order disclosure or not, and only then it would issue appropriate directions to the public authority.

    It directed the public authority to produce the impugned documents for Commission’s perusal in a sealed cover on August 22 through a senior officer, who would remain present during perusal and thereafter take them back after sealing the same.

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