A crucial piece of correspondence has gone missing from the law ministry barely two months after the Central Information Commission (CIC) directed that it be made public.
An RTI activist had sought to know why the petroleum ministry wanted a senior government law officer replaced in a high profile corporate battle being fought in the Delhi High Court in 2011.
The CIC, in its April 29 order, had, in turn, directed the law ministry to disclose the communication and file notings related to the removal of additional solicitor general Amarjit Singh Chandiok as the government’s law officer in a dispute with Essar Steel.
In its reply to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Aggarwal, the government’s legal arm stated the “letter is not traceable/available” in the department of legal affairs.
The CIC order came on Aggarwal’s appeal after the law ministry declined to provide him a copy of the letter written by the petroleum ministry, asking for Chandiok’s removal from the case.
The CIC rejected the contention of the petroleum ministry that the letter from its secretary to the law secretary was “confidential” and related to a “sensitive issue”, so should not be disclosed.
Essar Steel had challenged the petroleum ministry’s move to reduce the supply of natural gas from the KG-D6 fields off the Andhra Pradesh coast, citing a fall in output.
The petroleum ministry was unhappy with Chandiok for “misrepresenting” its stand in the court. “The stand taken by the ASG (Chandiok) before the court was against the instructions of the ministry and also contradicted the ministry’s affidavit,” it stated on July 4, 2011.
“The ASG, in his statement before the court, conceded to the main demand of the private company and did not argue on merit…. He informed us about the court proceedings after a month,” the ministry had complained to the government’s legal arm.