Now PMO unleashes ghosts of Gujarat riots
The RTI applicant had sought copy of all communications exchanged between the PMO and the Gujarat government between 27 February, 2002 and 30 April, 2002 on the law and order situation in the state. It had also sought copy of the communication exchanged between Vajpayee and Modi during that period which saw tense atmosphere in the state and former pushing for removal of latter as chief minister.
The Congress last week during the poll campaign quoted former prime minister and BJP’s tallest leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee ‘rajdharma’ speech to corner Narendra Modi over his role in failing to control the 2002 Godhra riots. Modi’s action either way, giving or withholding approval, would invite controversy and suit ruling Congress’s campaign against him.
The information has been sought under a Right to Information (RTI) application, which was earlier turned down by the Central Public Information Officer of the PMO SE Rizwi, citing section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act, which exempts information that would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
The decision was, however, overturned during the appeal before Rizvi’s senior Krishan Kumar, director PMO, where the applicant had objected to the response of the CPIO saying he failed to give germane reasons behind denial of information. The applicant had also underlined that the correspondence was 11 years old and was not likely to have an impact on the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of offenders.
Upholding the reasons given by the applicant, the appellate authority directed the CPIO to provide additional details with regards to the case. ‘As regards contention that the grounds for exemption claimed under section 8(1) (h) are not tenable, CPIO is directed to obtain fresh inputs in this regard and provide the same to the applicant within 15 working days,’ said Krishan Kumar, director and Appellate authority had decided.
In the latest response to six-and-a-half month old RTI application, Rizvi has said that following the decision of the appellate authority ‘third party (Gujarat government and Modi in the present case) consultation under Section 11(1) of the RTI Act’ was underway and response regarding disclosure of information in this regard will be provided to the applicant ‘after due process as envisaged in section 11 of the Act.’
According to the section 11 of the RTI Act, a notice seeking views of the third party have to be taken within five days of filing request but CPIO did not issue any such letter within the period. The matter of third party consultation was raised citing an existing process which has been on seeking the views.