The Prime Minister’s Office has once again refused to release details of the correspondence during the Gujarat riots between then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and then Chief Minister Narendra Modi, citing “third party objections.”
RTI activist Subhash Agarwal wrote to the PMO in December 2013 seeking complete copies of correspondence between Mr. Vajpayee and Mr. Modi between February 27, 2002, the day the Sabarmati Express was set on fire in Godhra, and April 30, 2002, by when the worst of the post-Godhra riots was over.
After first refusing to give the information, a decision overturned in appeal, the PMO replied to Mr. Agarwal in April 2014 that it was seeking consent of third parties.
RTI activist seeks copies of third party ‘objections’
On March 3 this year, the PMO finally replied to RTI activist Subhash Agarwal to say that the third parties had replied to say that the information was confidential and “will have the effect of impending [sic] the ongoing inquiry, investigation and trial.”
The record of deliberations by the Chief Minister “is required to be constitutionally and legally protected from disclosure”, the PMO’s reply quotes the “third parties” as having said. As a result, the PMO refused to provide the information.
While the PMO’s fresh reply does not name the third parties, Mr. Agarwal says that it must refer either to Mr. Vajpayee or Mr. Modi. “From media reports, I believe that Mr. Vajpayee is not in the health to take such a decision. If Mr. Modi took the decision, I want to know if he did it as Gujarat CM or as PM,” Mr. Agarwal told The Hindu .
Mr. Agarwal has filed a first appeal under the RTI Act with the PMO in which he has asked for copies of the objections raised by “third parties.”
Mr. Agarwal has also objected to the PMO stating that the disclosure would affect legal proceedings, noting that the RTI allows exemption for information that would impede investigation, and not for all matters under investigation.
“Making the sought information public can never impede any process of investigation now after 13 long years of the matter for which reports of several enquiry commissions have already been made public,” Mr. Agarwal said.