Volcker Report (Oil for Food Scam) related letter...
There is a interesting recent decision of the CIC regarding disclosing a letter received from the Indian Ambassador to Iraq.
1. Applicant referred to statement of Shri Chidambaram, in Parliament, referring to a particular letter sent by the Indan Ambassador to Iraq.
Applicant wanted a copy of that letter from Ministry of External Affairs.
2. CPIO denied information under Section 8(1)(h) (ongoing investigation).
3. Applicant argued in his First Appeal that:
- The concerned letter is not a matter of investigation but the involvement of some Indians is a a matter of investigation.
- No investigation has ever been ordered against the said letter.Ministry cannot claim that each and every bit of correspondence is under investigation
- Non disclosure will only facilitate a cover up.
4. The First AA suddenly turned around and said that the exemption under Sec 8(1)(h) was a typographical error. It should be actually Sec 8(1)(a) !
(Please note that the by this time, the CPIO, who initially replied to the applicant, had himself become AA !)
5. The first IC hearing the case (Dr O P Kejriwal) recused himself from the case due to his personal contacts with the applicant. Case was transferred to CIC Shri W. Habibullah.
6. The CIC wanted to know as to how Sec 8(1)(a) is applicable if nowhere has a mention been made by CPIO or AA of the foreign country, etc. It also gave the supremacy of one's rights over Sec 8, which allows for denial of information.
CIC has now asked for a copy of the letter so that they can examine it and decide for its disclosure or not.
CIC to govt: Place Ambassador`s letters on Oil-for-food scam
New Delhi, March 31: The Central Information Commission has directed the Centre to present before it copies of letters sent by Indian Ambassador in Iraq to the government in 2004 allegedly giving details on non-contractual beneficiaries in the Oil-for-food scam.
The Commission passed the order on an RTI application filed by Bangalore-resident Arun Kumar Agrawal who was denied the details on the ground that divulging the information would affect India's relations with Iraq.
Observing that the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) is silent as to how it would affect the relations with Iraq, the CIC decided to go through the letters to verify the government's stand.
"(The Ministry's reply) is silent as to in what manner the disclosure will affect relations with the foreign states... For these reasons, information officer MEA is directed to present the letters for our examination in a sealed cover," the Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said.
Agrawal in his application had sought disclosure of letters from then Indian Ambassador to Iraq dated January 28 2004.
He contended some private entities were involved in the scam and the information sought by him would exposing them.