The records of the Justice J S Verma Commission of Inquiry into security lapses that led to former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination is not traceable, the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has said. It made the revelation during a hearing into an RTI application by A G Perarivalan, a death row convict in the assassination case.
Perarivalan had sought information on the reports of the Verma Commission and the Justice M C Jain Commission, which was also formed to probe the assassination, under the RTI Act. Every section of the MHA had replied to the appellant that “the information doesn’t pertain to their division” and hence did not provide any information.
The National Archives of India was the only body which had responded positively to the applicant when he had approached it for the reports. However, it said it had about 918 files relating to other activities of the Verma and Jain commissions. The Judicial Division of the MHA replied to Perarivalan’s first appeal dated March 19 that “it is not available with this division.”
On the Jain Commission, which was constituted after the Verma Commission to investigate the case, the MHA said it has certain reports. However, it stated that the files contain inputs from the CBI and IB, which are exempted under the RTI Act, and it should obtain permission from these organisations to ascertain if it would be possible to disclose the contents of these files.
The Chief Information Commission has directed the MHA to provide the copies of the reports of the Jain Commission and the Verma Commission.
Information Commissioner (IC) of CIC Sushma Singh, on hearing the case last week, directed the MHA to provide the copies of the two investigation reports to the appellant within a week from the receipt of the order. She also directed to submit the action taken report. Under Secretary of MHA Girish Kumar represented the MHA, while four lawyers represented Perarivalan. Citing the inordinate delay on the part of the MHA, Sushma Singh said, “The respondent MHA may take steps to ensure that RTI applications are correctly marked to the CPIO concerned in future to avoid delays in reply to the appellant and penalty proceedings.”
Regarding the information related to file-notings/correspondents/minutes of the commissions sought by the appellant, she directed the VIP Security Unit, the first appellate authority, to pass a speaking order on it. She said the information should be provided within two weeks from the receipt of the order. “The respondent may give an opportunity of hearing to the appellant before passing the said order,” said the IC and added, “The appellant shall be at liberty to file a second appeal against the said order.”
One of Perarivalan’s advocates said, “We sought this information on the two commissions to find out the outcome of the Multi-Disciplinary Monitoring Agency, which is investigating the conspiracy angle in the former PM’s assassination. The RTI applications were aimed at exposing lapses and flaws in the inquiry and the attitude of the MHA to the judiciary and the people. It will also help us defend Perarivalan.”
The MHA has not even handed over the Verma Commission report to the Jain Commission to carry forward the probe, he said.