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CIC seeks Atal-Narayanan letters

The classified correspondence between then PM and President has been sought by a citizen invoking the RTI Act.

india Updated: Nov 06, 2006 03:14 IST

Notwithstanding the reservation of both the Rashtrapati Bhawan and Government, the Central Information Commission on Tuesday called for the classified correspondence exchanged between former President KR Narayanan and Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee regarding the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Commission's full bench headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah asked the Ministry of Personnel to submit the correspondence between the period from February 28, 2002 and March 15, 2002.

The riots broke out after 57 people were killed in a fire that broke out in S-6 coach of the Sabarmati Express carrying kar sevaks from Ayodhya on February 27, 2003 near Godhra in Gujarat.

The CIC order came on an appeal filed by a citizen in February this year invoking the Right to Information Act.

The appeal was filed by one Ramesh, a resident of Vellore, Tamil Nadu, seeking directions from the CIC to order the Ministry of Personnel disclose the contents of the letters which were earlier asked by Justice Nanavati-Shah Commission claiming privilege.

The Commission has directed the ministry to produce the document for perusal on August 22 this year through a senior officer, who shall remain present during the process and will take them back after sealing the same in the presence of CIC.

The order added that it would issue appropriate directions to the Ministry of Personnel only after a careful examination of the sensitive documents.

The Full Bench had on June 27 heard the matter and also recorded the views of Ramesh via video-conferencing.

The Ministry of Personnel, represented by the Additional Solicitor General, had asserted that the correspondence concerned a matter involving national security and it would not be in public interest to disclose its contents.

In reply to this, Ramesh's counsel strongly argued that the disclosure would in fact help restore confidence in a section of the community that was badly affected by civil strife.

First Published: Aug 08, 2006 17:03 IST