statesman news service
NEW DELHI, 12 JUNE: The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has used a confidentiality clause in the RTI Act to refuse to part with records related to its affidavit filed in Allahabad High Court in response to a writ petition seeking probe into allegations made against Robert Vadra, son-in-law of Congress president Sonia Gandhi on controversial land deals.
An RTI activist, Dr Nutan Thakur, through an RTI application, wanted details of all the file notings related to the PMO affidavit before the High Court which said that all the allegations leveled against Vadra were false.
In its first reply to Nutan Thakur, the PMO reportedly claimed that since the matter was sub-judice the records cannot be disclosed to her. Dr Thakur argued that such details can only be withheld when there is explicit order from the court not to disclose it.
Later, the PMO said: “The office, keeping in view the Supreme Court ruling, has sought exemption as the matter has been treated as confidential.”
It quoted a Supreme Court order which said the exemption under Section 8(1)(e) is available not only in regard to information that is held by a public authority in a fiduciary capacity, but also to any information that is given or made available by a public authority to anyone else for being held in fiduciary capacity.
“In other words, anything given and taken in confidence expecting confidentiality to be maintained will be information available to a person in fiduciary capacity,” the PMO said.
After a furore over the allegations of irregular land dealings levelled by Aam Aadmi Party national convener Arvind Kejriwal against Vadra, Dr Thakur had filed a writ petition last year before the Lucknow Bench of Allahabad High Court.
It was dismissed by the Bench after Additional Solicitor General Mohan Parasaran, appearing on behalf of the Centre, had submitted that the petition was based on general newspaper reports which cannot be treated as true.
In its affidavit, the PMO had termed the allegations regarding irregular land dealings between Vadra and real estate major DLF as “false, based on hearsay and vexatious”.