On the day Mufti Mohammad Sayeed died, senior PDP leader Muzaffar Baig had taken a letter from his party to J & K Governor N N Vohra to intimate him of the decision that Mehbooba Muti will be the Chief Minister but did not hand it over to him as he needed to be fully assured that all the MLAs were on board on the decision.
The details have been revealed in a report sent by Vohra to Rashtrapati Bhavan recommending Governor’s rule in the state, according to the documents provided by the Union Home Ministry in an RTI response to activist Venkatesh Nayak.
A similar request by Srinagar-based activist Shaikh Ghulam Rasool was turned down by Vohra’s office citing August 13, 2013 communication from the Home Ministry that any privileged communication between the Governor and the President of India and other matters pertaining to the official functioning of the Governor cannot be divulged.
It also cited a pending Supreme Court case in a similar RTI matter.
The RTI Act does not apply in Jammu and Kashmir and the state has its own version of the transparency law modelled on the Act.
“Before I left Srinagar on 7th evening, to return to Jammu, a PDP delegation comprising Muzaffar Baig (Member of Parliament) and Nizam-ud-Din Bhat (General Secretary PDP and former MLA) met me with prior appointment, at Srinagar airport.
“Sh Baig informed me that he had brought a letter from his party, addressed to me, which intimated the PDP’s decision that Mehbooba Mufti, member of Parliament, would be the next Chief Minister. Baig explained that he was not handing over this letter to me as he needed to recheck and be fully assured that all the PDP MLAs were on board in regard to the aforesaid decision,” he wrote in a letter dated January 9, 2015.
Sayeed died on January 7, 2015 and Governor’s rule was imposed on January 9, 2015.
“The pending Supreme Court case where Manohar Parrikar is the respondent, relates only to the Central RTI Act’s jurisdiction. “It does not extend to matters covered by the J&K RTI Act because no order made under the state’s Act is challenged before the apex court. So the PIO’s reply is not only bad in law but also smacks of ignorance of the facts of the pending Supreme Court case,” Nayak said.