BeyondHeadlines News Desk
New Delhi: The country can soon know about various communications between different government departments over the Bhopal gas tragedy from 1984, when the incident happened, to 1995 following a Supreme Court verdict. Now the details of communications exchanged between Warren Anderson, the prime accused in the Bhopal gas tragedy, and the Ministry of External Affairs can come to the public domain.
Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit has directed the Public Authority to “provide all the information as are available with them in their official records relating to the matter.”
Afroz Alalm Sahil, editor (investigation), BeyondHeadlines (BH), had filed an application under Right to Information Act (2005), seeking ‘photocopies of various communications exchanged by the ministry with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) between April 1984 and July 1995 along with the particulars of the various officials and their designation, photocopies of correspondences exchanged by the ministry with various departments of the Government of India and those exchanged by the Government of India and the State Government of Madhya Pradesh with the Ministry of External. he had also sought the details of the amount of money spent till date by the ministry in relation to the Bhopal Gas Leak case.
The chief public information (CPIO) of the Ministry of External Affairs had, however, refused to divulge details saying, “requisite information is not available with the ministry, which needs to be compiled. However, the CPIO is not supposed to compile new information, which would disproportionately divert the resources of the public authority, as provided under Section 7(9) of the RTI Act, 2005.
On denial of information, BH’s Sahil had appealed to the Information Commission. During hearing, the concerned CPIO had further argued that “furnishing any information in this regard could impede the process of extradition” and hence denied divulging of any information under provisions of Section 8 (1) (a) and (h) of the RTI Act 2005.
However, Dixit observed, “No question of impeding the process of extradition arises. A matter sub judice is not ground enough for denying information about the matter.”
She has hence disposed the case and directed the ministry to “provide all information as are available with it in its official records relating to the matter and as sought by the complainant, by or within the June 10, 2011.”