Citizens' Issues
Govt destroys over 11,000 historical files on PM's order!
Between 5th and 8 July 2014, over 11,100 files were destroyed without following any mandatory procedure on directions from the Prime Minister, reveals RTI reply
 
As most of us are aware, the Government of India has stringent rules for maintaining official files as well as for destroying them. So, when word went round initially that over 1.5 lakh files, probably of historical value, were destroyed indiscriminately by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), there was a ruckus in the Rajya Sabha between 9th and 14 July 2014, demanding the specific details by the members.
 
While, some members questioned as to whether files pertaining to Subhash Chandra Bose or assassination of Mahatma Gandhi were shredded to pieces, Home Minister Rajnath Singh replied that the files were destroyed at the direction of the Prime Minister (PM) to secretaries of all department and that, only 11,100 files were destroyed with unspecified number of pages. Minister of Law and Justice, Ravi Shankar Prasad assured that none of them were of any historical value. The two ministers though, did not back their claims with any proof of having followed official procedure of destroying filed and what exactly was destroyed and therein lies the suspicion.
 
As always, one can fall back on the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find out if the government had indeed adhered to the norms. In this case, RTI activist and researcher Venkatesh Nayak, has done commendable work by filing applications to the Home Ministry. The vague replies he received confirms that the government is hiding valuable facts from people and clamping down on transparency. 
 
Ridiculously, to Nayak’s request of providing him with a list of 11,100 files that were destroyed, the Home Ministry replied that it is still compiling the data (after destroying them!) To the query of whether the six monthly report of files destroyed have been submitted to National Archives of India, the reply is 'no', although it is mandatory for the government to do so. Regarding a query of the manner in which these files were destroyed, the Public Information Officer (PIO) informed Nayak that he can get the same on payment, despite the fact that the information comes under Section 4 of the RTI Act and should be freely available and despite the fact that the PIO replied after the mandatory 30 days, in which case information must be given free of cost.
 
Nayak narrates the RTI applications filed by him, the replies he received and what they connote.
 
Nayak filed an RTI application on 18 July 2014 to the Home Ministry. Following are the points on which he had sought information and the reply that he received:
 
• A clear photocopy of the list containing the subject matter of each of the 11,100 files and records that were weeded out/destroyed by your Ministry along with a clear indication of their categorization- such as Category A’, ‘B’ and C’’ accorded to them prior to such destruction;
Reply: List of files which are destroyed is being compiled. This can be made available in due course on payment of requisite fee. You may write to us if so desired.
 
 • The number of the Officer(s) of your Ministry along with their designations who authorised the clearing of the said files and papers (names are not required);
Reply: A copy of letter No. NIL dated 05.06.2014 from the Cabinet Secretary is attached. Para (f) thereof refers.
 
• The designation(s) of the representative(s) of the National Archives that were present at the time of weeding out of the said files as required under para #113 of the Central Secretariat Manual of Office Procedure (names are not required);
Reply: -do (i.e., same as above reply).
 
• A clear photocopy of the half-yearly report of the records weeded out during the latest clearing exercise, prepared by your Ministry for submission to the Director General Archives, as per Rule 9(4) of the Public Records Rules, 1997;
 
Reply: No such report has been sent to National Archives of India.
 
• The exact number and subject matter of files originally classified: “top secret”, “secret” and “confidential” that were declassified and deposited with the Director General, National Archives of India under Rule 7(3) of the Public Records Rules, 1997, if any;
Reply: Nil.
 
• The exact number and subject matter of files accorded with the security classification: “top secret”, “secret” and “confidential” that were weeded out, if any;
Reply: Nil.
 
• A clear description of the manner of disposal of the records that were cleared, namely the number of files incinerated (burned) and/or shredded."
 
Reply: Record Retention Schedule of MHA is available on the website of MHA (Website: mha.gov.in). This list can be made available on payment of requisite fee.
 
Venkatesh Nayak says, “the Public Information Officer's reply is vaguer than the Home Minister's statements in the Rajya Sabha.”
 
Nayak analyses as to why the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government, which promises transparency has indulged into a devious and suspicious game:
 
Even after more than a month of destroying the 11,100 files, the MHA does not have, in one comprehensive list, details of all files that were destroyed. Having looked at records management practices in some detail during my decade-long career of advocating for transparency in government, I find it surprising that the MHA went about destroying files without even preparing a list of files for review, first. The PIO's reply that the even the list of files that were weeded out has not been compiled till date indicates that the procedure for properly identifying files for weeding out was simply not followed.
 
Further, Section 4(1)(a) of the RTI Act states that all public authorities including the MHA must index, catalogue, computerise and network the records they hold in custody. If the MHA's divisions did not have a preliminary list of files to be reviewed for destruction, how exactly did the weeding out process take place? Did the 500 officers whom the Home Minister stated as being involved in the weeding out exercise, simply walked to the records rooms or the shelves where the old files were kept and started weeding them out one by one? The refusal to give details of this process both to Parliament when the issue was debated and now when a request is made under RTI, is shocking to say the least. What worsens the case is the audacity of the PIO's reply sent more than 30 days after the request was received in the MHA that the information will be given only on payment of fees.
 
The Home Minister informed Parliament that 500 officials were involved in the weeding out exercise. No further details were given. When I asked for only the designations of such officers because officers of all grades and ranks are not permitted to authorise destruction of official records, a vague reply is given to me. Para (f) of the Cabinet Secretary's letter only states that the entire process of weeding out files must be done in accordance with rules of record keeping including digitisation within 3-4 weeks. The PIO's reply to this query is simply not a sensible reply at all. Let alone the names, even the designations of the officers who authorised destruction of files is being denied under the RTI Act in a roundabout manner.
 
• 3) Para #113(2) of the Central Secretariat Manual Office Procedure (CSMOP) requires that records that are more than 25 years old be reviewed for archivisation in consultation with the National Archives. However the PIO's reply indicates that National Archives was not consulted at all during this weeding our process. So how old were the records that were weeded out is a serious question and this was not satisfactorily answered either in Parliament or in response to my RTI application.
 
Para #113(7) of the CSMOP requires that Category 'A' and 'B' records that are not weeded out be sent to the Archives for preservation, if not required for reference within the Department. These records are meant for preservation for 25 years or more. However the PIO's reply indicates that no file classified 'top secret', 'secret' or 'confidential' was sent to the National Archives in June-July, 2014. It is only obvious that files of shorter lifespan would also not have been sent to the Archives for preservation as they may not contain information of historical value that is worth preserving. What then was destroyed in June-July 2014 is a mystery that neither the Home Minister's reply in the Rajya Sabha nor the PIO's reply clarifies. The only saving grace is that no classified record (i.e., top secret, secret or confidential) was destroyed. Even there we simply have to take the MHA's word for it.
 
The PIO's reply to my query about the manner of destruction is also vague. According to the CS-MOP records may be destroyed either by shredding or burning. The answer to my query has to be "one of the two" or "both" depending upon the choice of mode of destruction made by the MHA. Nevertheless I looked through the MHA's website but could not find the record retention (RR) schedule anywhere on the website. The 3-4 line explanation given under Section 4(1)(b) RTI manuals under clauses (iii), (iv), (v) and (vi) is childish and shows scant respect for a law made by Parliament. These manuals have not been updated since they were first drawn up several years ago. (See:http://mha.nic.in/infoundrsec) However, if readers find the RR schedule on the MHA's website, kindly alert me and I will reconsider my views on this subject.
 
So much for transparency by the NDA government, which in reality is throttling the RTI Act, this being a stark example.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.) 

User

COMMENTS

Dipakkumar J Shah

3 years ago

What at the stage of even High Court level we do not know. Milibhagat of Advocates in jungle raj and best known to them only. They are on higher seat also.....

TIHARwale

3 years ago

Glad to note from comments that our institutions including Judidiary have become dysfunctional and jungle raj prevails where might is right. Courts allow cases to drag on for decades and cases end with the death of litigants

Ramesh B Mhadlekar

3 years ago

Even the RBI follows the same pattern in providing information under the RTI Act 2005.For the majority of the information it simply says it has no information.To a query as to dishonestly affixing the Government of India Sticker on the officials vehicles,since RBI is a Autonomous body,it simply says that it has no information.The information is recorded daily on its CCTV on the entry of the official Cars in the premises of RBI carrying Executives of the RBI,yet it has no information.The dishonest use of GOI stickers is for dishonest gains.The Management of RBI is silent on such an issue.Dishonest act can probably termed as Corrupt act of the ones misusing the GOI stickers.

REPLY

Dipakkumar J Shah

In Reply to Ramesh B Mhadlekar 3 years ago

When you talk about Reserve Bank of India , this reminds me a well known case of State Bank of India ATM case I challenged Before Hon. High Court of Gujarat , A T M Card was issued as free of cost and started charging Yearly fees from customers!! It was on agreement Free of cost. Without having taken signature confirming debiting amount of charges . This is known to Reserve Bank of India. R B I was party to this case . Since then no action!! Hon. High Court has not passed any order closing the Case!!!! It was closed inn sense like , I had to give addresses of SBI Associates Banks addreses. If I do not file Addrese the case was automatically construed CLOSED / DISMISSED. See the working of Hon. Courts and manner!!!

Dipakkumar J Shah

3 years ago

What I have seen in High Court of Gujarat in Company Petition No 17 of 1996 the serial numbering file should be kept in tact . But many of the pages as referred in the Final order are missing. You know all the process. It is said that some of the Objectors have withdrawn their objections by way of filing Pursis. Since long time it is not on record!!!
No explanations have been given by any body. This file was also not available for more than 10 years!!!
Some part of the File is available only!!!

RIL and IL&FS part ways from Haryana township project
RIL said, after the exit of IL&FS, its unit Reliance Ventures would continue to develop the model economic township in Haryana
 
Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) said its unit, Reliance Ventures Ltd (RVL), and Infrastructure Leasing and Finance Services (IL&FS) have decided to end their joint venture to co-promote a model economic township (MET) project at Jhajjar in Haryana.
 
In a statement, RIL said that the project was being developed by Reliance Haryana SEZ Ltd (RHSL), a subsidiary of RVL in the industrial township model framework. During January 2011, IL&FS has become a partner in the project.
 
Development of the township will continue on the directly purchased land, and work to build an industrial colony has begun on 290 acres, RIL has said, adding that some Japanese majors have established their manufacturing units in the MET project. 

User

COMMENTS

Adheer Pai

3 years ago

It is a mockery of the SEZ model.

Reliance had already returns 1383 acres of land acquired from Haryana State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) for setting up special economic zones (SEZs) owing to revision of strategic priorities.

The farm lands are taken from farmers through ordinances. The company decides not pursue SEZ due to "revision of strategic priorities".
And there is not provision in the land acquisition act to return the land back to the original owners (farmers).

So now the farmers are without lands, and no SEZs - so there is no economic activity and employment for them anymore.

http://www.business-standard.com/article...

Adheer Pai

3 years ago

It is a mockery of the SEZ model.

Reliance had already returns 1383 acres of land acquired from Haryana State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) for setting up special economic zones (SEZs) owing to revision of strategic priorities.

The farm lands are taken from farmers through ordinances. The company decides not pursue SEZ due to "revision of strategic priorities".
And there is not provision in the land acquisition act to return the land back to the original owners (farmers).

So now the farmers are without lands, and no SEZs - so there is no economic activity and employment for them anymore.

http://www.business-standard.com/article...

Nifty, Sensex will continue to face selling at higher levels – Thursday closing report
Nifty rallies may not sustain even if new highs are hit
 
We had mentioned in Wednesday’s closing report that NSE's CNX Nifty will make attempts to make new highs, but will come under selling pressure. On Thursday, for the first time, after nine consecutive days of positive closing for the S&P BSE Sensex, and after five consecutive days of positive closing on the Nifty, the indices closed in the negative.
 
Sensex managed to open marginally in the positive at 27,165, while the Nifty opened at 8,114. Hitting the day’s high almost at the same level as the opening, the benchmarks edged lower. Sensex hit a low of 26,972 and closed at 27,086 (down 54 points or 0.20%), while Nifty hit a low of 8,061 and closed at 8,096 (down 19 points or 0.23%). The NSE recorded a higher volume of 107.67 crore shares. India VIX fell 2.35% to close at 13.0775.
 
Among the other indices on the NSE, the top five gainers were Pharma (0.46%), Dividend Opportunities (0.34%), Midcap (0.23%), FMCG (0.18%) and Auto (0.07%) while the top five losers were Realty (4.00%), Metal (1.60%), PSU Bank (1.13%), Infra (0.99%) and Smallcap (0.80%).
 
Of the 50 stocks on the Nifty, 18 ended in the green. The top five gainers were Bajaj Auto (3.63%), Hero MotoCorp (2.42%), Power Grid (2.09%), NTPC (1.79%) and HDFC (1.58%). The top five losers were DLF (8.15%), Bhel (4.29%), Jindal Steel (3.93%), Hindalco (3.28%), Tata Steel (2.96%).
Of the 1,597 companies on the NSE, 537 companies closed in the positive, 1,016 companies closed in the negative while 44 companies closed flat.
Ratings agency Standard & Poor’s (S&P) has expressed “cautious optimism” for India’s sovereign rating. S&P might scale up the outlook on its India rating from negative to stable instead of effecting an upgrade.
 
India's Intelligence Bureau (IB) has reportedly issued an all-India alert after al-Qaeda leader Ayman al Zawahri announced the formation of an Indian branch of his militant group.
UPL (7.81%) hits its 52-week high today and was the top gainer in ‘A’ group on the BSE. Post stock split, Jammu & Kashmir Bank (6.87%) was among the top two gainers in ‘A’ group on the BSE. The company had announced a stock split in the ratio of 1:10.
 
After 18 consecutive days of trading in the negative, when Bhushan Steel stock price crashed as much as 76% (from Rs380.75 on 5 August 2014 to Rs91.50 on 2 September 2014), the stock has closed in the positive today for the second consecutive session. Today, it rose 5% and was among the top four gainers in the ‘A’ group on the BSE.
 
Jaiprakash Associates (17.60%) was the top loser in the ‘A’ group on the BSE on rumours that the promoters were selling their shares. The company has clarified that one of the promoters holding 72.36 crore shares, constituting 29.75% of its share capital, has sold only 1.45% of such shareholding and continues to hold 68.83 crore shares, constituting 28.30% of the company's share capital. This small shareholding has been sold by the promoter company to meet its requirement of funds (including for social cause).
 
Bajaj Auto (3.25%) was the top gainer in Sensex 30 pack. It has registered 8% growth in total sales during August to 3.36 lakh units. It expects to sell 4 lakh units in September.
 
Mahan Coal, a joint venture between Hindalco Industries and Essar Power, which has invested Rs20,000 crore for setting up end-use plants, is missing from the list of 46 blocks for which the government requested the Supreme Court for an exemption. Hence, the chances of a de-allocation have risen. Hindalco (3.40%) was among the top two losers in the ‘A’ group on the BSE.
 
US indices had a mixed closing on Wednesday. The US economy expanded at a modest to moderate pace over the past six weeks as a booming auto industry and tourism continued to drive growth, the Federal Reserve said in its Beige Book on Wednesday.
 
Asian indices showed a mixed performance. Shanghai Composite (0.80%) was the top gainer while Jakarta Composite (0.36%) was the top loser. The Bank of Japan kept its record stimulus unchanged today. European indices were trading in the green. US Futures too were trading higher.
 
German factory orders surged the most in more than one year in July, after weak demand in the second quarter contributed to an economic contraction. Orders, adjusted for seasonal swings and inflation, rose 4.6% from June, when they slid a revised 2.7%, the Economy Ministry in Berlin said today. That's the biggest increase since June 2013.

User

We are listening!

Solve the equation and enter in the Captcha field.
  Loading...
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email
Close

To continue


Please
Sign Up or Sign In
with

Email

BUY NOW

The Scam
24 Year Of The Scam: The Perennial Bestseller, reads like a Thriller!
Moneylife Magazine
Fiercely independent and pro-consumer information on personal finance
Stockletters in 3 Flavours
Outstanding research that beats mutual funds year after year
MAS: Complete Online Financial Advisory
(Includes Moneylife Magazine and Lion Stockletter)