The prime minister’s office has refused to share information under the guise of ‘confidentiality’ on its affidavit in response to a petition seeking a probe into Robert Vadra’s land deals. Vadra is Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s son in-law.
Lucknow-based RTI activist Nutan Thakur sent a letter to the PMO seeking a probe in Vadra’s deals after Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal and lawyer Prashant Bhushan alleged that he was involved in shady and irregular land deals.
She also sought the Allahabad high court’s intervention in the case. The PMO contended in an affidavit that there was no merit in Thakur’s case as it was based on media reports and hearsay. The court dismissed the case on March 7.
In February, Thakur also filed a request under the Right to Information Act asking the PMO what action it had taken on her letter seeking a probe against Vadra. She also sought information on the PMO’s affidavit in the Allahabad high court. She told dna that she just wanted to know the ‘file notings’ related to action taken by the PMO. On March 1, the PMO refused to share the information, and said that the information cannot be provided to her since the matter was “sub-judice”.
Thakur sent a second RTI request to the PMO, seeking the same information in May. With the matter now being out of court, the PMO was in a position to respond to the RTI request. However, on June 6, the PMO again refused to furnish the information. “The office, keeping in view the Supreme Court ruling, has sought exemption as the matter
has been treated as confidential,” the PMO said.
The PMO was referring to an apex court ruling which states that “the exemption under section 8(1) (e), of the RTI Act, is available not only in regard to information that is held by a public authority in a fiduciary capacity, but also to any information that is given or made available by a public authority to anyone else for being held in a fiduciary capacity.”
“In other words, anything given and taken in confidence expecting confidentiality to be maintained will be information available to a person in fiduciary relationship,” the PMO said quoting the Supreme Court ruling.
However, Thakur is not convinced with the PMO’s argument. “The PMO claims that all the representations coming to its office are forwarded to appropriate agency. I only wanted to know the action taken on my representation. I still don’t know that,” Thakur told dna.
“This shows that the PMO is not in favour of transparency.”
Originally Posted in DNA news.