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PMO refuses to give info on Modi's foreign travel

May 08, 2015 16:02 IST
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PM Modi visited Singapore to attend the funeral of Lee Yuan Kew on March 29. Photograph:  Edgar Su/Reuters  

The Prime Minister's Office has refused to give information on the expenses incurred on Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent visit to Singapore saying it is too "vague" and "wide".

A Right To Information-applicant based in Ahmedabad has sought the information related to the expenses incurred on Modi's visit to attend the funeral of Lee Yuan Kew, the founding Prime Minister of Singapore.

"Reference is invited to your application dated April 3, 2015 on the subject mentioned above. The matter was referred to the office for providing inputs. Office has informed that the information sought is too vague and wide," Under Secretary P K Sharma of the PMO said.

Earlier this week, Congress President Sonia Gandhi had accused the Bharatiya Janata Party dispensation of attempting to "subvert" the RTI Act. She had said citizens no longer have right to question the government as top offices like the PMO, cabinet secretariat besides the Supreme Court, high courts and Comptroller and Auditor General are no longer accountable for violations under the RTI and are protected from public scrutiny.

The central information commission, in an order, had directed the cabinet secretariat to make public expenses incurred on the travel of ministers and VVIPs because of large public interest in the matter.

"We have been noticing a lot of public interest in the visit of such high dignitaries as the president, the vice president and the prime minister of India. Quite often, one comes across RTI applications seeking similar information about these visits," Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra had said.

Following the orders of the CIC, the then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had started the practice of making public on the official website details of expenses incurred on his visits as well as on the visits undertaken by the ministers.

Complying with the mandatory provisions of suo-motu disclosure under the transparency law, the PMO has placed in public that a sum of over Rs 642 crore was incurred on his air travels abroad between 2004 and 2013.

The expenses on the visits of public authorities are maintained in records which are regularly provided under the RTI Act. It has also been revealed under the RTI Act that the then President Pratibha Patil spent Rs 225 crore on her 14 visits abroad.

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