Any disclosure detrimental to India’s relations with foreign country should be refused: official
In a surprising move, the Tamil Nadu Prison Department has submitted to the State Information Commission that information sought by A.G. Perarivalan, convict on death row in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case, cannot be disclosed as it would “certainly entail trans-border ramifications with far-reaching consequence which cannot be visualised now.”
Deputy Inspector-General of Prisons (Headquarters) A.G. Mourya submitted to the SIC here that the information sought by Perarivalan was refused under Rule 473 of the Tamil Nadu Prison Rules, 1983, read with a section in the Right to Information Act.
There was yet another important legal ground underlying the refusal of information.
Referring to a clause under Section 8 (1) (a) of the Act, he said if disclosure was detrimental to India’s relations with a foreign country, such information should be refused.
The present case pertained to India’s relation with a neighbouring country, though it might appear to be a case involving the life and liberty of an individual.
“Certainly, the paramount consideration would be the preservation of relation with a foreign state and the right of the individual has to subserve in the larger interest of the state,” he said.
Sources close to the family of Perarivalan said the convict had sought to know the status of his mercy petitions filed every year between 2006 and 2009. The first mercy petition filed in 2000 was rejected by the President in 2011.
“The petitions had information based on some crucial evidence. The other RTI plea was on the visit of research scholar Reena Mary George and the convicts whom she interviewed at Vellore Central Prison in 2011…how can this information derail India’s ties with Sri Lanka?” wondered People’s Movement Against Death Penalty convenor Selvaraj Murugaiyyan.
Perarivalan would challenge the refusal of information by the Prison Department during the SIC hearing through video-conferencing scheduled on September 12, the sources added.