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Rediff News  All News  » News » RTI may help settle Gujarat riots puzzle

RTI may help settle Gujarat riots puzzle

August 09, 2006 03:19 IST

The Central Information Commission on Tuesday called for the classified correspondence exchanged between former President K R Narayanan and former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee regarding the 2002 Gujarat riots.

The CIC order came on an appeal filed by a citizen in February this year invoking the Right to Information Act.

The appeal was filed by one Ramesh, a resident of Vellore, seeking directions from the CIC to order the ministry of personnel to disclose the contents of the letters, which were earlier sought by Justice Nanavati-Shah Commission.

The commission's full bench, headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, asked the ministry of personnel to submit the correspondence between the two from February 28, 2002 to March 15, 2002.

The commission has directed the ministry to produce the document for perusal on August 22 through a senior officer, who shall remain present during the process and will take them back after sealing the same in the presence of the CIC.

"This commission after careful consideration has decided to call for the correspondence in question and will examine as to whether its disclosure will serve or harm public interest," the CIC said.

The order added that it would issue appropriate directions to the ministry of personnel only after a careful examination of the sensitive documents. The full bench had on June 27 heard the matter and also recorded the views of Ramesh via video-conferencing.

The ministry of personnel, represented by the additional solicitor general, had asserted that the correspondence concerned a matter involving national security and it would not be in public interest to disclose its contents.

In reply to this, Ramesh's counsel strongly argued that the disclosure would in fact help restore confidence in a section of the community that was badly affected by civil strife.

The riots broke out after 57 people were killed in a fire that broke out in S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying karsevaks from Ayodhya on February 27, 2003 near Godhra in Gujarat.