Delhi High Court blocks Narayanan Vajpayee Letters during Gujarat Riots 2002

Delhi High Court has ruled out the decision of Central Information Commission which had directed Central Government to disclose all the Correspondence during Gujarat Riots between then PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee and President K R Narayanan.

Justice Anil Kumar allowed the central government’s plea filed against the CIC order of Aug 8, 2006.  The CIC had asked the government to disclose all the letters sent by Narayanan to Vajpayee from Feb 28, 2002, to March 15, 2002, relating to the Gujarat riots. Tne release of letters was sought by C. Ramesh through the Right to Information act.

“The order of the CIC dated Aug 8, 2006, is liable to be set aside and the CIC cannot direct the petitioner (government) to produce the correspondence between the president and the prime minister,” said the judge.

“Respondent No.2 (C. Ramesh) is not entitled for the correspondence sought by him, which was exchanged between the president and the prime minister relating to the Gujarat riots,” ruled Justice Kumar, who retires Wednesday.

The government, quoting Articles 74 and 78 of the constitution, submitted that any advice tendered by the union council of ministers or correspondence exchanged between the president and the prime minister enjoyed immunity from public scrutiny.

The government said the correspondence between the president and the prime minister were “classified” and “privileged” documents under Article 74 and hence the provisions of the RTI could not overide the same.

“By virtue of Article 361 of the constitution, the deliberations between the prime minister and the president enjoy complete immunity as the documents are ‘classified documents’ and thus enjoy immunity from disclosure not because of their contents but because of the class to which they belong, and therefore the disclosure of the same is protected in public interest,” the government said.

It complained that the CIC erroneously applied the provisions of Section 6 of the RTI Act in seeking the classified documents from the government.

The government had sought the quashing of the impugned judgment of the CIC on the ground that the disclosure of the information Ramesh sought “relates to Gujarat riots and any disclosure of the same would prejudicially affect the national security, sovereignty and integrity of India”.