//Man uses RTI to see what PMO hides

Man uses RTI to see what PMO hides

Press Trust Of India,  July 02, 2006

New Delhi: The row over the PMO's refusal to divulge classified correspondence between Rashtrapati Bhawan and the then Prime Minister A B Vajpayee on the Gujarat riots to the Nanavati Commission has reached the Central Information Commission (CIC).

The matter came to the fore once again when an aggrieved citizen filed an application before the CIC seeking a direction to the PMO to divulge the said correspondence under the newly legislated Right To Information Act (RTI).

"Since the matter involved a citizen's Right to Information and at the same time a Government's right to withhold certain sensitive correspondence between two Constitutional authorities, it was decided to constitute a full Bench to adjudicate the matter," sources said.

The five-member Bench of the CIC is expected to deliberate over the petition by the end of the week before issuing a notice to the PMO seeking its reply on the dispute.

In March this year, the PMO had twice rejected the directions of the Nanavati Commission to furnish certain official correspondence exchanged between the then President K R Narayanan and Vajpayee on the Gujarat communal riots.

The PMO refused to do so on the ground that the correspondence was "highly confidential" and "senstive" and hence enjoyed immunity under the Official Secrets Act.

This is the first time since the inception of the CIC that a full Bench comprising all the five Commissioners would be sitting to decide a matter of this nature and importance.

The matter is considered to be highly sensitive in view of the rigid stance taken by the PMO on it.

It was widely speculated earlier that Narayanan had made certain critical observations on the Narendra Modi Government and the BJP-led NDA Ministry for alleged ineffective handling of the riots.

Justice Nanavati had sought copies of the correspondence between the two Constitutional functionaries but it was declined by the PMO.