After tweets it’s turn of RTI silence that will hurt Sushma Swaraj

Ministry of external affairs headed by Sushma Swaraj has declined information about Lalit Modi’s passport

GN Bureau | June 29, 2015


#lalit modi   #sushma swaraj   #passport   #eternal affairs ministry   #rti   #congress  


Lalit Modi show is running like a Indian serials on televisions, long and tedious with same repetitive dialogues. Now, this week’s episodes may focus on a RTI query. The ministry of external affairs (MEA) headed by Sushma Swaraj has declined to provide information about Lalit Modi’s passport.

Seven questions were asked in the RTI application filed a person from Haryana. The ministry said, while a part of the queries did not come under the purview of the transparency law, it pleaded lack of information regarding other questions.

The questions included one about who had taken a decision not to appeal in the supreme court against the Delhi high court's decision to restore Modi's passport. "Kindly note that the office of External Affairs Minister (EAM) has informed that the questions in Serial 1 to 3 of your RTI does not seem to fall under the purview of the RTI act, 2005. As regards to queries Sl No 4 to 7, no information is available with EAMs office," the MEA said in its reply dated June 26.

For further action the ministry has sent the application to its consular, passport and visa division as well as to the ministries of home and finance.

The questions were why Swaraj did not advise Modi to apply for a temporary travel document to the Indian High Commission in London.It also asked why the minister did not insist on Modi’s return to India as a condition for issuing a temporary Indian travel document.

The RTI query sought to know whether the government has lodged any objections to UK for granting residency permit to Modi (he has refused to appear before the Enforcement Directorate) and what steps the government has taken on fresh passport and to enforce the ED summons.

It asked who took the decision not to file an appeal in the supreme court against Delhi High Court’s ruling setting aside cancellation of Modi’s passport. It asked whether the ED, at whose instance the passport was cancelled, was consulted on the issue.

The MEA's response has attracted the Opposition onslaught. The Congress said the action of the EAM is against the spirit of RTI Act.

Senior Congress leader PC Chacko said this is against the spirit of the RTI Act. "In fact, any private information need not be disclosed but here is a case which is affecting even the security of the country also and person who is fugitive, who is an absconder, against whom there is an inquiry going on... and when information is sought on that, it simply cannot be treated as a private matter," Chacko added.

CPI(M)’s Brinda Karat said it was “more than just stonewalling”.

However, BJP spokesperson Nalin Kohli says there is a process about RTI and there are certain rules which are followed. "If it is about specifics, the concerned officers would be the right people to ask," he said.

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