Says it has no information on all-party meeting convened by Sushil Kumar Shinde on December 28,

Was the all-important all party meeting on Telangana called by Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in his North Block office in New Delhi on December 28, 2012, an official one or an informal get-together ?

Doubts are being raised over the status of the meeting that was to play a key role in finding a solution to five-decade-old knotty issue with the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) sending a terse but familiar, “the requested information is not available…” reply to a RTI query seeking details.

RTI activist, Rakesh Kumar Dubbudu, in his application to the Ministry filed on December 29, sought information about the meeting, copies of all letters/ representations/ documents submitted by representatives of eight political parties and the video-recording of the proceedings.

‘Official or unofficial’

“While some had clear-cut stand, others were playing political games. I wanted to know how serious they are including the Central government on resolving the issue”.

The Ministry took about one-and-a-half month to respond on February 11.

The official did not mention a word about the representations received by the Ministry and the video-recording. What does it mean? Did Mr. Shinde call the meeting in his personal capacity? How can the Ministry say it has no information of such important official meeting?, he asked recalling how it was a top MHA official who sent invitations to the eight political parties to attend the meeting.

The casual reply shows that not only some political parties even the Centre was not serious in resolving the issue, he said.

With no word on minutes of the meeting, file notings and copies of representations, he wonders about their fate and if they have already been trashed.

Video-recording sought

He told The Hindu that under the RTI Act any information could be sought even if it was “in- camera” meeting unless of course the authorities invoke exemption clauses that anyway would not have applied in this particular case.

Mr. Rakesh said he sought video-recording of the meeting as Mr. Shinde at his post-meeting briefing to the media made it clear that the views expressed by all the political party representatives were recorded. Under Section 2 (f) read with Section 2 (i) of the RTI Act, any recording, electronic or otherwise is treated as information that could be made available to the people. Dissatisfied with the MHA’s response, the activist said he would go in appeal.