The row over the PMO's refusal to divulge to the Nanavati Commission some correspondence between Rashtrapati Bhawan and the then Prime Minister AB Vajpayee on the Gujarat riots has reached the Central Information Commission with a citizen invoking the Right to Information Act to get the sensitive documents.
A full bench of the CIC is expected to soon take up for adjudication the citizen's plea to direct the PMO to disclose the classified correspondence between the two top Constitutional functionaries, CIC sources said.
This is the first time since the inception of the CIC that a full bench comprising all the five Commissioners would be sitting to decide a matter of this nature and importance which is considered to be highly sensitive in view of the rigid stance taken by the PMO on it.
In March this year the PMO had twice rejected the directions of the Nanavati Commission to furnish certain official correspondence exchanged between the then President KR Narayanan and Vajpayee on the Gujarat communal riots.
It was widely speculated earlier that Narayanan had made certain critical observations on the Narendra Modi Government and the BJP-led NDA Ministry for alleged ineffective handling of the riots.
Justice Nanavati had sought copies of the correspondence between the two Constitutional functionaries but it was declined by the PMO.
Despite the Nanavati Commission twice requesting the PMO to furnish the information, the latter refused to do so on the ground that the correspondence was "highly confidential" and "sensitive" and hence enjoyed immunity under the Official Secrets Act.
Even as the stalemate between the Commission and the PMO remained unresolved, an aggrieved citizen has recently filed an application before the CIC seeking a direction to the PMO to divulge the said correspondence under the newly legislated Right To Information Act (RTI).
"Since the matter involved a citizen's right to information and at the same time a Government's right to withhold certain sensitive correspondence between two Constitutional authorities, it was decided to constitute a full Bench to adjudicate the matter," sources said.
The five-member bench of the CIC is expected to deliberate over the petition by the end of the week before issuing a notice to the PMO seeking its reply on the dispute, the sources said.