Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha Jaswant Singh wants to know how and why the erstwhile rulers of princely states lost their titles and privy purses. But the government just can’t find the papers.
The lawmaker has moved under the Right to Information Act – that he had helped push through in the Rajya Sabha – to seek access to cabinet papers, notings and all documents including discussions between the government and the then rulers, the officials and the nth rulers and the notes drafted for the discussion in Parliament.
Last week, the Central Information Commission ordered the National Archives of India to renew its efforts in locating the official papers. These document trace the decision-making process in the Indira Gandhi government 35 years ago to rescind the decision to allow rulers of the princely state to retain their titles and guarantee a grant in heredity that was called the “Privy Purse”.
Jaswant Singh, who hails from one such family in Rajasthan, had put in his request through his personal staff to the home ministry in January this year, pointing that he required the information for “research and study”.
The home ministry checked its records and figured that it had moved the papers to the National Archives of India. But officials at NAI could not track down most of the files that the senior politician wanted to peruse. Eight months later, Jaswant Singh finally lodged his complaint with the CIC.
Wajahat Habibullah, chief information commissioner, gave the archives three weeks to locate the remaining files and ordered the home ministry to allow the Member of Parliament to inspect three files found so far.