In response to an RTI application, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) will seek consent from the Gujarat Government and Chief Minister Narendra Modi for making public details of the correspondence with the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee during the post-Godhra riots in 2002.
The PMO has earlier refused to disclose the communication exchanged between the then Prime Minister and the Gujarat Chief Minister quoting Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act, without given any specific reasons. The provision exempts information which, if made public, is likely to derail any probe, arrest or prosecution of offenders.
The decision by the PMO Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) S.E. Rizvi was overturned by the appellate authority, Director PMO Krishan Kumar, on an appeal from the applicant that no germane grounds for denial of information had been put forth. The applicant also submitted that since the correspondence sought was 11 years old, it was not likely to impact any probe, apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
The appellate authority issued directions stating "As regards contention that the grounds for exemption claimed under section 8(1) (h) are not tenable, CPIO PMO is directed to obtain fresh inputs in this regard and provide the same to the applicant within 15 working days."
In subsequent response to the over six-month-old application, the CPIO has taken recourse to Section 11 (1) of the RTI Act, intimating the applicant that the consultation with the third party (the Gujarat Government and the then State Chief Minister) is in process.
The provision stipulates that where a CPIO intends to disclose any information or record, or part thereof on a request made under the Act, which relates to or has been supplied by a third party and has been treated as confidential by that third party, the CPIO shall, within five days from the receipt of the request, give a written notice to the third party with regards to the information sought.
The RTI applicant had requested for copies of all the communications between the PMO and the Gujarat Government between February 27, 2002, and April 30, 2002, on the law and order issues in the State. A copy of the correspondence between the then Prime Minister and the Chief Minister had also been sought.