NEW DELHI: Taking the line adopted by the previous Congress-led UPA government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Office has refused to disclose records related to Subhash Chandra Bose's death as it rejected the argument that there was a larger public interest involved in making them public.
The Right to Information Act allows for a public authority to disclose records which are otherwise exempt from disclosure if public interest outweighs the harm protected.
Activist Subhash Agrawal had sought from the Prime Minister's Office the records related to the freedom fighter and leader of the Indian National Army to clarify the mystery surrounding his alleged death in a plane crash 70 years back.
Agrawal had also asked for information of the steps taken by the top office to make such records public and the action taken on requests seeking such documents.
But toeing the line of the UPA government, the PMO had cited an exemption clause in the RTI Act which allows withholdnig of information that could prejudicially affect relations with a foreign country. The PMO, however, did not even give the names of the countries with which the relations may get affected once the said information is made public.
When the first appeal was filed before a higher officer in the top office, the Appellate Authority, Krishan Kumar, had rejected the argument that public interest would be served through the disclosure of the documents related to Bose's death.
Home Minister Rajnath Singh, while campaigning for polls, had claimed that there was a larger public interest involved in the disclosure of the documents, but the PMO under Modi does not seem to be in agreement.
"It is observed that the disclosure of the records was withheld under Section 8(1)(a) of RTI Act on the grounds that it would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries.
"The determination as to whether a particular body of records has such ramifications has been left to the judgement of the competent authority authorised to determine the same," Kumar had said.