India’s transparency watchdog, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Prime Minister’s Office to release communication between former telecom minister A Raja and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in relation to the 2G spectrum scam.
In an order, overruling the government’s decision not to provide information regarding why A Raja was not sacked even after the 2G scam surfaced, the Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said the information should be provided.
“The appellant has framed his queries in Hindi and his queries are a mix of allegations and his desire for what the nation should be. The Commission has reframed his queries and after discussions with the appellant the reframed query in his application is being given to the PIO (public information officer)," Gandhi said.
Ashwini Kumar, resident of Sri Ganganagar district of Rajasthan, had sought information from the PMO regarding the basis for retaining Raja in the Cabinet despite the Comptroller and Auditor General of India and the Central Bureau of Investigation clearly pointing out irregularities in allocation of 2G spectrum.
The PMO refused to information saying it does not have any record related to the 2G scam.
Gandhi widened the scope of the RTI application by asking the PIO to provide information regarding charges of corruption against A Raja and copies of file notings or correspondence of the PMO in this regard.
A Raja had claimed that he had obtained clearance from the PMO before allocation of 2G spectrum, which the government had denied. The CBI had told the special court that there was evidence of "forgery" in altering of first-come-first-serve policy to allow some companies to get 2G spectrum during Raja's tenure.
But, the documents relating to correspondence between PM Singh and A Raja were not made public and the CIC now opened the window to releasing the documents.
The government has, however, freedom to appeal in the Delhi High Court against the CIC order and seek a stay. “A decision in this regard is yet to be made,” a senior government official said.
Raja who was arrested by the CBI on February 2 in connection with corruption in the award of scarce telecom spectrum is in judicial custody.