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1984 RTI Judgement Series: Missing Reports of 1984 Sikh Riots

Discussion in 'History of Sikhism' started by spnadmin, Mar 20, 2013.

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    RTI Judgement Series: The missing reports of the 1984 anti-Sikh riots

    http://www.moneylife.in/article/rti...eports-of-the-1984-anti-sikh-riots/31639.html

    Despite spending considerable money from the exchequer nobody from the government knew the whereabouts of some of the reports on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots. This is the 59th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application

    The Central Information Commission (CIC), while allowing an appeal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, expressed anguish over missing reports of number of Commissions on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.

    While issuing a show-cause notice to the Public Information Officer (PIO) and directing the home secretary of the Delhi government on 17 September 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner said, “...the PIO could not locate the reports which must have been produced at considerable cost to the public exchequer. It appears that a number of Commissions have made hay on the anti-Sikh riots and given reports which have not delivered any justice to the victims and yet these reports cannot be located.”

    New Delhi resident Suroor Mander, on 27 January 2010, sought information from the PIO of Lok Sabha who transferred the application to home (Police-II) department of the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (GNCTD). Here is the information she sought...

    1. Certified photocopy of the Jain-Aggarwal Committee Report, Banerjee, Misra & Marwah Commission Report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots with its annexures as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry.
    2. Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Jain - Agarwal, Banerjee, Misra & Marwah Commission Committee.
    3. Certified photocopy of the Bhatt and Singh Commission Report on the 1989 Bhagalpur anti-Muslim riots with its annexures as well as all other documents to the Commission.
    4. Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the Bihar Legislative Assembly on the Bhatt and Singh Commission of inquiry.
    5. Certified photocopy of the Narula Committee Report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots with its annexures as well as all other documents related to the Commission of inquiry.
    6. Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Narula Committee.
    7. Certified photocopy of the Mahapatra Commission’s interim report on the 2007 Kandhamal riots with its annexures as well as all other documents related to the Commission.
    8. Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the Orissa Legislative Assembly on the Mahapatra Commission of inquiry.
    9. Certified photocopy of the Kapur-Mittal Commission Report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots with its annexures as well as all other documents related to the Commission of Inquiry.
    10. Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Kapur-Mittal Commission of Inquiry.
    11. Certified photocopy of the Nanavati Commission Report on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots with its annexures as well as all other documents related to the Commission of Inquiry
    12. Certified copy of the Action Taken Report submitted to the parliament on the Nanavati Commission of Inquiry.

    OP Wadhwa, officer on special duty (OSD) to the chief secretary and PIO, Delhi, transferred the RTI application to PIO of ADM (HQ) at divisional commissioner, who on 22 January 2010 forwarded it to the PIO of the home department.

    In his reply, the PIO of home department, said, “The records pertaining to 1984 riots are almost 25 years old and the same are not readily available with the home department, Govt of NCT of Delhi. Efforts are being made to trace the records from our record room, and it may take some time to trace the record in respect of the information asked by you. This may be treated only as an interim reply and as soon as we are able to trace the relevant records, the same would be dealt/ provided as per the provisions of RTI Act, 2005”.

    Due to non-receipt of the required information, Ms Mander filed her first appeal. While re-iterating the PIO's statement, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) in his order again directed the PIO to provide a copy of the letter dated 25 February 2010 sent to her and provide the information immediately after checking the record.

    Ms Mander then filed her second appeal before the Commission citing incomplete information provided by the PIO.



    During a hearing, Mr Gandhi, the then CIC, observed that the RTI application was transferred from the Union government to the state government and it was even transferred twice before reaching the home department of GNCTD. He said, “After that the PIO at the home department Delhi said that he could not locate the reports which must have been produced at considerable cost to the public exchequer. In bits and pieces they have managed to give some reports and yet the following reports are missing completely:

    1. Marwah Commission on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, 2. Dhillon Committee on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots, and 3. Narula Committee on the 1984 anti-Sikh riots.”



    “It appears that a number of Commissions have made hay on the anti-Sikh riots and given reports which have not delivered any justice to the victims and yet these reports cannot be located. The appellant naively believes that the government would have acted on these reports, whereas it appears nobody is even aware of what these reports said,” the Commission said.



    In a letter on 29 March 2010, one PIO MA Ashref refused to provide the Kapur-Mittal report on the anti-Sikh riots stating that, “the report of KapurMittal Committee has been marked as secret and therefore cannot be disclosed under the provisions of Official Secrets Act 1923”.



    Mr Gandhi said nearly four and half years after the RTI Act, 2005, had been implemented a PIO must realize that refusal to give information can only be based on the exemptions of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act. “No exemptions of Section-8(1) of the RTI Act have been quoted by the PIO nor has he given any reasons to explain how the information is exempt. Thus the action of the PIO is without any basis in law,” he said.



    The Commission, while allowing the appeal issued a show-cause notice to the PIO and directed Mr Ashref to give reasons as to why penalty should not be levied on him.



    Regarding the reports of the Marwah Commission, Dhillon Committee and Narula Committee, the CIC directed GS Patnaik, home secretary of GNCTD to file an affidavit to Ms Mander before 10 October certifying that these reports are not with the Delhi government.
     
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