NEW DELHI: Does the RTI Act supersede the decisions of former ministers not to disclose certain bits of information to the parliament? Would disclosing it amount to a breach of privilege of the parliament?
This peculiar question, though one with serious ramifications, has arisen out the Union home ministry denying insignificant information regarding the properties left behind by former ruler of Udaipur over 50 years ago, on grounds that that the disclosure would amount to breach of parliament privilege, as the then Union home minister YB Chavan had told parliament on November 15, 1967 that the “government has been of the view that the details of the property, recognised as private property of the rulers, should not be a matter for public disclosure.”
The Central Information Commission has referred the question to Lok Sabha speaker Somnath Chatterjee’s for his final views on the matter.
The CIC request is a fallout of 75-year-old Basanti Lal Singhvi’s request saying he has to submit the details of Saheliyon Ki Bari estate to the state district magistrate, Udaipur in his personal property suit.
Though the requested information looks innocent as it comes within the purview of the Right to Information Act that ensures that the authorities can’t withhold any information that is 20 years old, the home ministry’s citing breach of privilege to deny information .