The Delhi High Court has set aside an order of the Central Information Commission asking the External Affairs Ministry to allow a Right to Information activist “to inspect all the relevant records to locate information sought by him regarding the joint statement issued by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt last year”.
Justice S. Muralidhar said: “This Court fails to appreciate how the above direction could have been issued when the Ministry of External Affairs has taken a consistent stand that there are no relevant file notings or record pertaining to the information sought. In the circumstances, to allow inspection of relevant files to locate all information was pointless.”
The Court earlier stayed the CIC order on an appeal filed by the Union Government.
Last year, Right to Information activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal filed an application before the information officers in the Prime Minister's Office and in the Ministry seeking a copy of the joint declaration, the names of the officials who had drafted it and permission to see the file notings.
Mr. Agrawal moved the CIC when the information officer in the Ministry did not respond to his pleas.
When asked by the CIC, the Ministry said it had provided the applicant a copy of the joint statement, but it did not have any record of who had drafted the joint statement and the file notings on drafting the joint statement.
Thereafter the CIC directed that the file be produced before it. But the Ministry reiterated its stand.