PMO to provide Manmohan-Raja correspondence
NEW DELHI, June 22, 2011
Letters on telecom policy and 2G will be given to an RTI applicant
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) on Wednesday said that it would provide the correspondence between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the then Telecommunications Minister, A. Raja, on the implementation of the telecom policy and 2G spectrum pricing to an applicant under the Right to Information Act (RTI).
A statement by the PMO said that the correspondence would be made available after the Central Information Commission (CIC) reworded the specific information sought by the petitioner. On Tuesday, the CIC had said that it had altered the queries after consultations with the applicant and directed the PMO to release the correspondence between the Prime Minister and Mr. Raja on changes in the first-come, first-served policy on allotment of 2G spectrum.
The RTI applicant had approached the PMO seeking to know why Mr. Raja continued to be part of the Cabinet after serious allegations of corruption were levelled against him.
'NO RECORD OF CHARGES'
The PMO had replied saying it did not have any record relating to allegations of corruption against Mr. Raja, who was arrested by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in connection with alleged graft in the award of telecom spectrum during his tenure.
"The appellant has framed his queries in Hindi and his queries are a mix of allegations and his desire for what the nation should be. The Commission has reframed his queries and after discussions with the appellant the reframed query in his application is being given to the PMO," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi said in his directive to the PMO.
Mr. Gandhi directed the PMO to provide "attested copies of records regarding charges of corruption against A. Raja and copies of file notings or correspondence in this regard" before July 10.
The PMO, in its statement, said, "Such [media] reports give rise to an impression that these letters have not been disclosed by Prime Minister's Office in response to Right to Information applications.
"However, Prime Minister's Office has always provided the information sought, in response to Right to Information applications. Applicants, who have earlier sought copies of correspondence between Shri Raja and the Prime Minister, have already in the past been provided these copies by PMO. In the case reported upon in the media, the actual request made was not for these letters. As the Commission, after consulting the applicant, has reframed the request as requiring disclosure of the aforementioned correspondence, copies of the same would be made available to the applicant in this case as well."
Also read the related Decisions of Central Information Commissioner (CIC) as follows:
Mr. Ashwani Kumar vs Prime Minister Office on 20 June, 2011
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Club Building (Near Post Office), Old JNU Campus, New Delhi – 110067, Tel: +91-11-26161796
Decision No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000265/SG/12982 Appeal No. CIC/SM/A/2011/000265/SG
Relevant facts emerging from the Appeal:
Appellant : Mr. Ashwani Kumar C/O Sriraj Kumar Chugh, 6-1-41, Jawaharnagar, Sri Ganganagar, District Sri Ganganagar, Rajasthan.
Respondent: : Ms. Sanjukta Ray Dy. Secretary & CPIO, Prime Minister's Office, South Block, New Delhi.
RTI application filed on : 14/05/2010 PIO replied on : 16/06/2010 First Appeal filed on : 22/06/2010 First Appellate Authority order of : 23/06/2010 Second Appeal received on : 07/02/2011
1- Basis/reasons why Mr. A. Raja (Minister Government India) has been retained as Minister when it has been established in the CAG and CBI report about his alleged involvement in various corrupt practices.
2- Date by which amount will be recovered. 3- Provide reasons why no case was registered against Mr. A. Raja. 4- Wants policy of the Government of India by which Mr. A. Raja is being protected. 5- Who all are responsible for protecting Mr. A. Raja in the Government? And many other queries related to Mr. A. Raja.
Reply of the Public Information Officer (PIO): It is to inform you that no such record/evidence is available in the office records.
Grounds for the First Appeal:
No Information was given by PIO.
Order of the First Appellate Authority (FAA): The First Appellate Authority had upheld the decision of the PIO stating that the information as per available records has already been provided to the Appellant by the PIO.
Ground of the Second Appeal:
Information was not provided by the PIO. The FAA had also not provided information.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present
Appellant: Mr. Ashwani Kumar on video conference from NIC- Studio; Respondent: Ms. Sanjukta Ray, Dy. Secretary & CPIO; The appellant has framed his queries in Hindi and his queries are a mix of allegations and his desire for what the nation should be. The Commission has reframed his queries and after discussions with the Appellant the reframed query-1 put in his application is being given to the PIO. The PIO is directed to provide the information available as per records to the Appellant on query-1 which has been reframed above. The PIO will provide attested photocopies of records regarding charges of corruption against Mr. A. Raja and copies of file notings or correspondence of the PMO in this regard. Decision:
The Appeal is allowed.
The PIO is directed to provide the information as directed above to the Appellant and the Commission before 10 July 2011.
This decision is announced in open chamber. Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties. Any information in compliance with this Order will be provided free of cost as per Section 7(6) of RTI Act.
Shailesh Gandhi, Information Commissioner, 20 June 2011
(In any correspondence on this decision, mention the complete decision number.)
Also read the related Decisions of Central Information Commissioner (CIC) as follows:
Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal vs Prime Minister Office on 20 June, 2011
Central Information Commission, New Delhi
Right to Information Act¬, 2005 under Section 19, Date of hearing: 17 June 2011 Date of decision: 20 June 2011
Name of the Appellant: Shri Subhash Chandra Agrawal, 1775, Kucha Lattushah, Dariba Chandni Chowk, Delhi - 110 006.
Name of the Public Authority : CPIO, Prime Minister's Office, South Block, New Delhi. CPIO, Department of Personnel and Training, North Block, New Delhi.
The Appellant was present in person.
On behalf of the Respondent, the following were present: (i) Smt. Sanjukta Ray, DS & CPIO, (ii) Shri Sanjeev Gupta, SO, (iii) Shri Subhendu Hota, SO, (iv) Shri V.P. Sharma, Addl SP/CBI/ACB Chief Information Commissioner : Shri Satyananda Mishra
2. Both the parties were present and made their submissions. Besides, a representative of the CBI to which some queries had been transferred was also present.
3. The Appellant had sought a number of information in respect of the raids CIC/WB/A/2010/000184¬SM conducted by the CBI on some complaint against Shri A Raja, the then Minister of Telecommunications. He had also sought some information from the PMO regarding any action taken by the PM on complaints received against the Minister. The CPIO of the PMO had transferred part of the queries to the CBI while responding to the remaining. While it was denied that no complaint had been received in the PMO nor any response sent, some of the other information was denied by observing that the third party concerned had been consulted in terms of the provision of Section 11 of the Right to Information (RTI) Act implying that that party had objected. The Appellate Authority had approved of this response at his level.
4. During the hearing, the Appellant questioned the decision of the CPIO to consult any third party in the matter and pointed out that the CPIO should have consulted, if at all, any third party within five days of receiving the request and not much later, as in this case. In view of that, he submitted that he had a right to get the relevant papers irrespective of whether the third party had any objection or not. He also pointed out that he was yet to receive any response from the CBI in respect of those queries which had been transferred to them. On this, the representative of the CBI submitted that point wise information had already been sent on those queries soon after they received the RTI request. He, in fact, read out the contents of that communication and handed over a copy to the Appellant. The CPIO showed us the relevant papers, which included a few letters written by the then Minister to the Prime Minister. We found nothing in particular in these letters due to which these should not be disclosed. These are plain simple official communication from a Cabinet colleague to the PM. Therefore, on our direction, the CPIO handed over copies of those documents to the Appellant during the hearing itself. CIC/WB/A/2010/000184¬SM
5. Now, there is nothing more to be provided by way of information. The case is disposed off accordingly.
6. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties. (Satyananda Mishra)
Chief Information Commissioner
Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO of this Commission.
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