As the Congress mounted an attack on the Modi government for declassification of the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose files, government officials said the first batch of Netaji files was declassified during the tenure of the previous UPA government in 2012 and sent to the National Archives of India (NAI).
The files contained the material placed before the Justice Khosla Commission (1970-74) and Justice MK Mukherjee Commission (1999-2005) that were set up to inquire into the circumstances of Netaji’s death.
According to two intelligence files that were recently declassified, the union government spied on relatives of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose for nearly two decades. The files, which were sent from the West Bengal government’s intelligence branch to the Intelligence Bureau, show that several members of Bose's family were kept under surveillance between 1948 and 1968. The files were sent to the National Archives after being declassified in 2012.
The decision to declassify the documents stacked away for years in over 20 trunks at the home ministry came in the backdrop of a ruling by the Central Information Commission in 2009 to release all files related to the Mukherjee Commission.
The home ministry had sent the declassified files to the National Archives of India in line with the Public Records Act in October 2012.
But it was only in November 2014 that the NAI completed the task of arranging the files and giving access to research scholars.
Besides the papers relating to the two inquiry commissions, the NAI also has four other files related to the Azad Hind government.
A senior intelligence official said once the documents filed with the commissions were declassified, “these reports (that point to the security establishment keeping track of Bose’s family in Kolkata) also came in public domain”. He added that most of the reports documenting the surveillance related to the state government’s intelligence wing and the not the central intelligence agencies.
But a big chunk of the files still remains locked away at the ministries of home, external affairs and the Prime Minister’s Office on grounds that it could affect India’s relations with some countries.
On December 17, 2014, the minister of state for home affairs Haribhai Parathibhai Chaudhary told Parliament that the ministry of external affairs was holding on to 29 files and the PMO still had 60 files related to Netaji. The PMO had, however, sent two top secret files to the National Archives after declassifying them.