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HC says don't reveal letters between PM and Prez over 2002 Guj riots

New Delhi: The Delhi High Court today set aside a Central Information Commission's order to the Centre to reveal to it the communication between erstwhile Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee and President KR Narayanan over the 2002 Gujarat riots.

Justice Anil Kumar gave the order, allowing the Centre's appeal against the CIC's directions.

"In the facts and circumstances, the order of the CIC of 8 August, 2006 is liable to be set aside and the CIC cannot direct the petitioner (Centre) to produce the correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister.

The applicant had sought commincation between Vajpayee and the President about the 2002 Gujarat communal riots. Reuters

"Since the CIC is not entitled to peruse the correspondence between the President and the Prime Minister, as it is be barred under Article 74(2) of the Constitution of India, the application of the petitioner seeking such an information will also be not maintainable," said the judge.

Article 74(2) of the Constitution bars the disclosure of the advice given by the Council of Ministers to the President.

While setting aside the order of the full bench of the CIC, Justice Kumar, who is demitting office today, also dismissed RTI applicant C Ramesh's plea saying he was not "entitled" to the communications exchanged between the then President and Prime Minister over the Gujarat riots.

Ramesh's request for making public the communications under the Right to Information (RTI) Act had been denied by the Central Public Information Officer and his appeal against the denial was also dismissed, subsequent to which he had moved the apex transparency panel CIC.

A full bench of the CIC on 8 August, 2006 had called for the correspondences, sought by Ramesh, to examine whether their disclosure would serve or harm the public interest, after which it would issue appropriate orders.

The Centre had approached the Delhi High Court against the CIC order claiming that such disclosures would affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country.

PTI