Recollections and reflections

Reminiscences, Rafi Ahmad Kidwai

I first came in contact with Subhas Bose in 1923 at Delhi when the Congress was divided into two groups over the question of what was known as 'Council Entry.'...Subhas Babu, as the favourite lieutenant of Deshabandhu, was playing a prominent part in the controversy. more>>

Classified records on Bose in RAW's (Research and Analysis Wing) custody

3 September 2006: Anuj Dhar MN applies to the CPIO, PMO seeking the following information:
"I gathered that the Prime Minister's Office (PMO) and the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), which reports to the Prime Minister, hold several classified records on Subhas Chandra Bose.
 

  • Would you kindly let me know whether this information is true or not.
  • If yes, please provide me with a descriptive list of all records and materials (classified and unclassified) on or related to Subhas Chandra Bose the PMO and R&AW are holding, or are in control of; and; Whether the PMO has any plan to transfer these records/ materials to the National Archives?"

 

3 November 2006:PMO responds, saying,
 

  • "There are 11 unclassified files in PMO relating to Shri Subhas Chandra Bose. To obtain a copy of the list, you may deposit an amount Rs. 2/- with Cashier, PMO (to be deposited in person)/ or through DD/ Banker's cheque/ Postal Order drawn in favour of Section Officer, PMO.
  • As regards classifieds files held by PMO on the subject an exercise is being undertaken to review them for declassification. Files which are declassified after review would then be sent to National Archives of India.
  • As regards records held by Research and Analysis Wing your application is transferred to them for appropriate action. You may contact them for further information in the matter."

 

8 November 2006: Dhar files appeal to the first appellate authority of PMO.

12 December 2006: Dhar files complaint with the CIC over no response from RAW

15 December 2006: PMO replies as follows:

"On verification of the classified files held by PMO, it is held that their disclosure will prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. In view of this, there is no obligation to disclose the information under Section 8(1)(a) and (f) read with Section 8(2) and 8(3) of the RTI Act. No further action is, therefore, called for on your appeal and it is accordingly disposed of."

19 January 2007:RAW responds. It says, "RAW does not have any information pertaining to Netaji. As such no list as requested by you in point 2 can be provided. It might be added that we are under no obligation to provide this information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005."

29 January 2007: CIC holds hearing, says RAW not obliged to provide information.

7 February 2007: Dhar requests CIC to reconsider decision in light of R&AW's answers dated 12 December & 19 January. Dhar also furnishes evidence that R&AW is holding at at least one secret record on Netaji. Among others, Dhar cites clause 18 (1) (e) of the RTI Act that stipulates that CIC shall inquire into a complaint from any person who believes that he or she has been given incomplete, misleading or false information under this Act. To support his argument, he submits a list of documents from the JMCI to show that RAW indeed has documents in its custody.

9 April 2007: CIC rules that it has no "jurisdiction to pass any orders/decisions in respect of disclosure of any information or files. etc. in possession of this organization (R&AW) unless it is covered under ... 24(1) which speaks of allegation or corruption and human rights violation.

25 January 2008: CIC passes its second order. It says
The moot question at issue, therefore, is simply whether the disclosure of a descriptive list of records and materials of such classified material would have that effect and whether public interest in access thereto will outweigh the harm to the protected interest as submitted by appellant Shri Anuj Dhar...this Commission does not arrogate to itself the authority to adjudicate on matters concerning foreign relations, an issue to decide upon which the authorised agency competent so to do is the Ministry of External Affairs. However to satisfy ourselves whether or not PMO has exercised due diligence in arriving at its conclusions in regard to the above on verifiable grounds, CPIO Shri Amit Agrawal, Director PMO will present to us in sealed cover a list of such classified documents together with their description on 15.2.2008 at 4.00 p.m. After our perusal he will return with this material, again in sealed cover.

8 February 2008: CIC passes its final order. It says
Shri Amit Agrawal appeared before us with the sealed envelope required, the contents of which were examined by us. From this it transpires that there are 33 classified files on this subject with two files having been recently de-classified. Of these seven are classified "top secret", three "confidential" and the rest "secret". In four of these files there is reference to foreign states. We have held in our Decision Notice of 25.01.08 in this case, "As explained to the parties in the hearing, this Commission does not arrogate to itself the authority to adjudicate on matters concerning foreign relations, an issue to decide upon which the authorised agency competent so to do is the Ministry of External Affairs. "We will therefore not address the issue of whether such reference will "prejudicially effect relation with a foreign state" and accept the plea of respondents that disclosure of the file names will so do. Under the circumstances Sh Amit Agrawal, CPIO, PMO will provide a list of the 29 remaining files in addition to the two recently declassified listing their title to appellant Shri Anuj Dhar, within 10 working days of receipt of this decision