RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak has accused Rashtrapati Bhavan and the Union Ministry of Home Affairs of “stonewalling” information pertaining to the mercy petition and execution of Ajmal Kasab.
Mr. Nayak, programme coordinator of an NGO, Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, has claimed that he sought information from Rashtrapati Bhavan that was provided to other RTI applicants about Kasab’s mercy petition, but denied to him.
In January this year, Mr. Nayak had sought a copy of all replies communicated till date by the President’s Secretariat to persons who have filed RTI applications seeking information about the decision of the President on the mercy petition(s) relating to Kasab. “The PIO of Rashtrapati Bhawan stated that records of RTI applications received in the President’s Secretariat were not held subject-wise, so he would not be able to supply the information unless I quoted the name and address of the RTI applicant and the date of receipt of the application in the President’s Secretariat,” said Mr. Nayak, who is considering filing an appeal against the reply.
The Ministry of Home Affairs too, he said, has denied him information. “I had asked for copies of all mercy petitions submitted to the President relating to Kasab, the file notings relating to the disposal of the said mercy petitions; and the decision of the President on the said mercy petitions. The MHA has invoked Article 74(2) to reject my request. Under Article 74(2) of the Constitution, courts are barred from inquiring into any advice given by the Council of Ministers to the President. If mercy petitions for Kasab are covered by Article 74(2), then it implies that the Council of Ministers actually made a plea to the President for sparing Ajmal Kasab’s life. I say this because mercy petitions submitted by any other person do not qualify for the protection of Article 74(2). So if the Council of Ministers submitted a mercy petition for the late Ajmal Kasab, how and why did the President reject that advice?” Mr. Nayak questioned.
Reacting to the denial of information by Rashtrapati Bhavan, Mr. Nayak said: “The PIO’s action of rejecting the application on grounds that records are not maintained subject-wise is wrong in law as rejections may be issued only for reasons of Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act. The PIO could have permitted me to inspect all the RTI files relating to the mercy petition of Ajmal Kasab. I would have identified the files and the PIO’s time would not have been wasted. I have quoted two CIC decisions to support this argument.”
Copies of all replies sought communicated by the President’s Secretariat to RTI applicants ‘If the CoM submitted a mercy plea for Kasab, how & why did the President reject that advice?’
Copies of all replies sought communicated by the President’s Secretariat to RTI applicants
‘If the CoM submitted a mercy plea for Kasab, how & why did the President reject that advice?’