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Sanjiv Chaturvedi's RTI Query On Corruption Complaints Against Union Ministers A Pressure Tactic: PMO To Supreme Court

Sofi Ahsan
26 Sep 2022 8:39 AM GMT
Sanjiv Chaturvedis RTI Query On Corruption Complaints Against Union Ministers A Pressure Tactic: PMO To Supreme Court
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The Prime Minister's Office has told the Supreme Court that Indian Forest Service (IFS) Officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi's application, alleging non-compliance of the order on disclosure of information about action taken on corruption complaints against central government ministers, is arm-twisting and a pressure tactic."It is bonafide assumption of the respondent that the petitioner in guise of...

The Prime Minister's Office has told the Supreme Court that Indian Forest Service (IFS) Officer Sanjiv Chaturvedi's application, alleging non-compliance of the order on disclosure of information about action taken on corruption complaints against central government ministers, is arm-twisting and a pressure tactic.

"It is bonafide assumption of the respondent that the petitioner in guise of the present proceedings is seeking to achieve something indirectly what it cannot achieve directly," Parveen Kumar, who is Deputy Secretary in the PMO, said in a written reply to Chaturvedi's petition against the orders of Delhi High Court and Central Information Commission.

The counter affidavit was filed on September 2 this year.

Chaturvedi, who is currently posted in Uttarakhand, in August 2017 had filed an RTI request seeking details about the action taken on corruption complaints against central ministers. He had also sought information regarding the quantum of black money brought back from abroad since 2014.

The PMO Office in October had said the information sought is "generic and vague" and in reference to black money, said same is not covered under the definition of 'information' under RTI Act. However, certain information sought by Chaturvedi regarding other issues was provided to him.

In October, 2018, the CIC directed the PMO to provide reply or information to Chaturvedi within 15 days on his pending information requests. However, the PMO in response said, "this office receives complaints against Union Ministers /high level functionaries from time to time" and that "collation of information sought "will disproportionately divert the resources of the office". With regard to the question on black money, the PMO said the investigation in the matter is pending and thus disclosure is exempted under RTI Act.

Chaturvedi then filed a complaint before CIC under Section 18 of RTI Act, alleging non compliance of its earlier orders. However, the CIC in June, 2019 disposed of the matter saying the PMO has provided specific "reply" in compliance with its earlier order.

The challenge against the CIC decision failed in Delhi High Court. The matter then reached the Supreme Court in 2019 which issued notice to the Central Public Information Officer of PMO in January, 2020.

In response, the PMO has said that the single bench as well as division bench of the High Court correctly held that the CIC order does not suffer from any vice of illegality. 

"The Hon'ble High Court has duly appreciated the decision take by the respondent no 1 and has held the direction so passed by the CIC already stands complied with by respondent No. 1 as it has taken a decision in the matter on 1st November 2018," the reply contends, while terming Chaturvedi's contentions frivolous, misconceived and devoid of any merits.

Alleging that the petition appears to have been filed by Chaturvedi for extraneous reasons, the PMO has further said the "information" has already been provided to him in compliance of CIC's direction.

The PMO has further said it appears that an attempt is sought to be made by Chaturvedi to seek information in the form and content of his choice. However, the PMO has argued, the petitioner cannot insist on receiving information in the form and content of his choice.

Seeking dismissal of the petition, the PMO has sought exemplary cost in the matter while alleging that it seeks "to achieve an extraneous objective in guise of asserting statutory rights". 

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