Sunday, 29 April, 2007

Like sword of Damocles, CIC order hangs over MEA

This won't wash: CIC has directed MEA to release correspondence with Russia over Netaji

t is perhaps the most overlooked RTI related news of recent times. Your favourite newspaper did not tell you this, but last month the Central Information Commission (CIC) directed the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) to release copies of their correspondence with the Soviets/Russians over the disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose. What is more significant, and what could give the ministry the jitters, order by Information Commissioner Dr OP Kejariwal directs the Ministry to take up the matter with the Russian Government if it fears that the disclosure would harm the formidable relations between the two nations.

Dr Kejariwal passed the order after hearing out MEA officials Ajai Choudhary, Additional Secretary, AK Nag, Joint Secretary, and Anuj Dhar of Mission Netaji. Among other things, Dhar argued that in view of rampant scurrilous rumours linking all-time national greats like Pt Jawaharlal Nehru and Dr S Radhakrishnan to the Bose mystery, it would be in supreme national interest that the Ministry discloses all its records about the matter. "Not declassifying them will only aggravate such rumours," Dhar said during the hearing.

The Ministry officials had no logic to offer when they denied to Dhar the following pieces of information:

(a) Unambiguous information whether the issue of Netaji's fate or his alleged stay in the USSR was ever taken up by the MEA with the Soviets/Russians at a higher (say ministerial) level or; whether some enquiries into such a matter of national importance were made through mere note verbales, and;

(b) Certified copies of the complete correspondence in toto, covering what was asked, replies from the USSR/Russian Federation and MEA's reaction on record thereof.

In an evidently panic reaction, the Ministry refused to oblige, and stated:

(a) The information sought does not constitute an "information" as defined in the RTI Act, 2005 as it seeks anecdotal reply.

(b) The requisite copies of correspondence cannot be disclosed as it involves relations with a foreign state and is exempt as per the provisions of clause 8(10) (a)(i).

Dr Kejariwal, former Director of Nehru Memorial Museum & Library and a reputed historian, rejected the Ministry's take at the hearing, which took place on 23 March 2007. "The Commission also saw the Respondents' reply ... where ... it also said that the information was not being disclosed as it did not fall under the category of 'information' as defined in the RTI Act as it seeks 'anecdotal' reply. The Commission could not see the applicability of this answer at all in the present case."

Anuj Dhar: Will he get the correspondence?

Dr Kejariwal then outlined his order in 3 parts:

1. The MEA will have its correspondence with USSR and Russia over Netaji's disappearance examined "by their own expert/s and if need be, by an outside expert who they can rely on and then take a firm decision".

2. In case they come to the conclusion that the disclosure of papers won't affect relations between India and Russia, the correspondence will have to be disclosed.

3. If the conclusion drawn is that the relations between India and Russia would be harmed upon disclosure of this information, the Commission would like the issue to be settled only after: i) a reference has been made to the Government of Russia; ii) the papers are shown to the Commission, which would examine the bona fide of the refusal to disclose the information.

The Ministry is to provide an answer latest by 30 June 2007. The following possibilities are likely:

1. MEA will stand by its decision to not to disclose the papers.

-- In this situation, the matter will most likely head to the court. Either the Ministry, or the CIC or Dhar, depending on the support Mission Netaji gets from people, will make the first move.

2. MEA may disclose the papers in part, given that they appear to be in tune with official Government line.

-- Mission Netaji's information is that the Ministry never tried too hard to ascertain facts from the Russians, and the Russians didn't seem to have given convincing answers. No nation in the world, least of all a former superpower, will give away its secrets upon receipt of note verbales (informal, unsigned third person notes). When you want something big, you have got to try hard - at the higher level. Like Foreign Minister of India beseechingly writing to his Soviet counterpart.

-- However, disclosure of even the incomplete correspondence will help in better understanding of the Bose case. The documents may underline the disinterested approach of the Government.

Keep your fingers crossed guys, and keep pouring in your views.

Related links: Dhar's appeal to MEA ; The CIC decision


Mankoo said...

Its great to see the perfect way you are using keep up the good work. .

I would also like to introduce to you the bharatuday mission
please see this too its an old and long way of changing India

MN nuts said...

thanks for the appreciation.

Bharat Uday is known, noble mission with, as you rightly write, way to change India.


debasish said...

Very clear picture, government cornered on this and keeping low profile on the matter, but why media keeping distance from this Important case?

pradip datta said...

Cudos to anuj da and mission netaji team

MN nuts said...

Debashish, there are many reasons. One of them being that the political parties have not shown any interest in the case. In fact the BJP behaved like the Congress.

Parikshit said...

keep it up .. and keep us updated . admiration of artless beauty said...
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Manas Khan said...

Great work... but a long way to go.
The main problem is no political parties/ oppositions are interested in this issue... they all behave the same in issues of great national interests.

nikhil said...
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nikhil said...

Inquilab Zindabad...I hope with Anuj da's relentless efforts we will get the truth out sooner than later..

debasish said...

and What's the role of Forward Block in this regard? Are they serious and co-operating with Minnion Netaji?

Anuj Dhar said...

Dear Debasish, no political party as such is interested in the case. This includes All India Forward Bloc, which can do a lot if it comes to that. Mission Netaji has recieved no support from them. But on individual level people connected to all parties, including Forward Bloc and Congress, are interested in the matter. We have been getting moral support from several of them.

We are constantly trying to seek support from all those who would be interesting in settling the matter.


deepak said...

Mission Netaji should organise protest march to parliament and set on dharna near Jantar Mantar, Delhi to get media attention because very few people know about Mission Netaji's initiatives.

Pankha said...

When important issues like finding about the truth comes up, the govt, the media and even the revolutionaries look the other way. God only knows what they are afraid of. Th etruth or its consequences..?? Kudos to you Mr. Dhar for taking the steps to uncover the truth. Atleast our coming generations need to know the truth. Let us know how we can help.

pradip datta said...

Hi pankaj let people know about the RTI on Netaji issue. Mail everyone you know about these. You can send the below message to all.

Justice for Subhas Chandra Bose

On verification of the classified files (on Subhas Bose) held by PMO, it is held that their disclosure will prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries - Sanjay Mitra, Joint Secretary to Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh to Anuj Dhar of Mission Netaji in December 2006. RTI - Classified Files on Netaji

rahulthesweet said...
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rahulthesweet said...

Rev.sirs, I humbly bow in front of ur patriotism and ur sincere efforts inspite of severe adverse situations. You are really doing a great job. This will develop a spirit of truthfulness and determination for the next generations too ! kudos to all of u involved in this movement ..

Lot of people in the country, particularly the Youth are not informed about this movement. Also take some drastic steps to give publicity to this issue. It would create more pressure on the Govt.

Jai Hind !

Anuj Dhar said...

Publicity right now hinges on well wisher like you. Please tell all your friends about the matter and keep them posted about the developments.