PMO refuses to furnish Modi-Vajpayee communication during Gujarat riots
An application was filed with the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking to get the copies of all communications exchanged between the PMO and the government of Gujarat on the law and order situation in the state, including communications between the then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and the Chief Minister of Gujarat Narendra Modi, during the period of Gujarat riots (February 27, 2002 to April 30, 2002).
In its reply to the application, the PMO has declined to provide the information citing Section 8(1)(h) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders; of the RTI Act, which exempts from the purview of the act any information that could impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders.
However, while citing the exemption clause, the PMO didn't provide any reasons as to how the disclosure of requested information would attract the cited section. This is in violation of a Delhi High Court judgment which held that while denying information under any clause, cogent reasons must be given. The court had held that information cannot be refused merely on the grounds that an investigation was in process; the authority has to cite satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information would hamper the investigation process.