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>>

Correspondence between the Governments of India and Russia

2 August 2006: Anuj Dhar of MN requests the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) for certified copies of the complete correspondence the MEA had with the Governments of the USSR and the Russian Federation over the disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose.

25 August 2006: MEA tells MN that the request to the Government of USSR and the Russian Federation were made through diplomatic channels at "appropriate levels," and the correspondence could not be disclosed at it involves the relations with a foreign State and therefore exempt from disclosure as per the provisions of Clause 8(1)(a)&(f) of the RTI Act.

23 September 2006: MN files an appeal to the appellate authority in MEA. In his appeal, Dhar says that "appropriate" is a qualitative term and can vary according to situation and persons looking into the matter. "Plainly put, I wanted to know whether the matter was pursued at a higher (say ministerial) level, or such a matter of national importance was dealt with by our Embassy by issuing note verbales." He also points out that "at the time of Netaji's disappearance, the foreign State in question was USSR, which does not exist anymore. Therefore, the question of India's relations with the USSR being affected does not arise with reference to Clause 8(1) (a) & (f)." However, the appellate authority also refuses to divulge information taking recourse to Section 8(1)(a) and (i). Moreover, he opines that the "Information sought does not constitute an "information" as defined in the RTI Act, 2005 as it seeks anecdotal reply."

November 2006: Dhar files complaint with the CIC.

23 March 2007: Information Commissioner Dr O P Kejariwal holds first hearing and asks the Ministry to have the correspondence examined by its own as well as external experts, since he feels that the application was treated casually without examining the sensitivity of the documents.

10 August 2007: MEA tells Dr Kejariwal that it had approached the Russian Government which has informed that "documents handed over by them in June 2001 were meant only for the GOI's official use and for the work of the Commission in investigations into the disappearance of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose." MN points out that the RTI request was for the entire correspondence between the Governments of India and the USSR regarding the issue of Netaji's disappearance. The CIC accordingly directs MEA to clearly mention this while seeking the approval of the Russian authorities for disclosure of this material.

2 November 2007: MEA informs that the Russians have refused a second time. MEA says that the Indian embassy in Moscow again "approached the Government of Russian Federation to get their consent to the disclosure of documents". "But the Government of Russian Federation reiterated that documents were submitted exclusively for official use by the Government of India." The Russian Government, however, makes an offer, unrelated to the correspondence, that Russian archives can be approached "through the Embassy of India" over Netaji related records.