MHA refuses to disclose info on Guru`s mercy plea
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Last Updated: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 19:02
New Delhi: The Home Ministry has refused to disclose information related to processing of clemency plea of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru citing impact on national security and exemption given to cabinet documents under the Right to Information Act.

While withholding information, Home Ministry has cited section 8(1)(a),(g) and (i) of the RTI Act which exempts disclosure of three categories of information.

Section 8(1)(a) exempts information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.

Section 8(1)(g) allows exemption of information which would endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.

The last section 8(1)(i) is related to exemption given to cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers.

The Central Information Commission, however, had allowed the disclosure of file noting related to action taken on mercy pleas filed by prisoners sentenced to death as the matter related to life and liberty of these people.

The Home Ministry had earlier provided details of file noting on various mercy pleas filed with the President.

Activist Subhash Agrawal, who filed the application, said he was surprised with "the sudden change of attitude" of the Ministry in citing these exemption clauses while denying the information in "select cases".


The Ministry has also refused to disclose information about the decision taken to reject the mercy petition of those convicted in assasination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi -- Murugan, Santhan and Perarivalan -- citing section 8(1)(a),(b) and (g) of the RTI Act.

Section 8(1)(b) of the RTI exempts documents which have been expressly forbidden to be published by any court or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court.

The trio, charged with criminal conspiracy and execution of the suicide attack plot, had filed mercy petition before the President after confirmation of death sentence by the Supreme Court in the year 2000.

It was rejected by the President in August this year. The Home Ministry had sent its opinion on June 21, 2005 which was called back for review on February 23, 2011 and was again submitted on March 8 this year.

Agrawal in his appeal before higher authorities of the Home Ministry said, "In earlier all cases, file-notings on mercy-petitions have always been provided without any hitch. Moreover it is unjustified that exemption may be sought only for some selected cases while file-noting are allowed on rest other cases."

He said the CPIO has also not mentioned any court-order prohibiting disclosure of file-noting as claimed by the CPIO under section 8(1)(b) of RTI Act.

Agrawal in his appeal argued that it is a matter of great public-interest and involving life and liberty of certain individuals that too at a time when demand for abolishing death-sentence is being made world-wide including in India.


First Published: Thursday, October 06, 2011, 19:01

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