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HindustanTimes Thu,24 Apr 2014

Oil min letter on replacing law officer untraceable

PTI  New Delhi, June 18, 2013
First Published: 18:22 IST(18/6/2013) | Last Updated: 18:38 IST(18/6/2013)

A petroleum ministry letter asking the law ministry to replace the then additional solicitor general A S Chandiok from a crucial case against Essar Steel is "untraceable".

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After orders from the Central Information Commission to disclose communication and file notings related to replacing Chandiok from the crucial case, the Law Ministry has claimed that the letter is "untraceable".

The case relates to RTI application filed by Subhash Agrawal seeking copy of file notings and letter written by the Petroleum Ministry where it had asked the Law Ministry to replace Chandiok claiming that he took stand against its instructions in the Essar Steel case.

The transparency panel allowed disclosure of communication and file notings in connection.

The Commission rejected the contention of the Petroleum Ministry that the letter from its Secretary to the Secretary, Law Ministry was "confidential" and related to a "sensitive issue", so it should not be disclosed.

"It is a well settled law that the public authority can claim exemption from disclosure only as per the section 8 (1) of the RTI Act. In the present appeal before the Commission, the respondent has not claimed any exemption as per the RTI Act nor been able to explain how the information if revealed would attract any of the exemption as per the Act," Information Commissioner Sushma Singh held.

Essar Steel had approached the Delhi High Court challenging the Petroleum Ministry's move to reduce the supply of natural gas from the Reliance KG-D6 fields to non-core sectors. It had maintained that if gas supply was reduced, the company would face hardships.

While the court had passed orders on June 3, 2011, the ASG reportedly intimated it to the Petroleum Ministry on July 1.

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