The file carrying details of the purported inquiry into Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde’s gaffe in which he had disclosed the names of Bhandara minor rape victims in the Rajya Sabha is not “traceable”.
After maintaining silence on an RTI application for nearly six months, the ministry has admitted before the Central Information Commission that the “file concerned” was not traceable in the ministry.
Issuing a showcause notice to the ministry to explain reasons for not responding to the application in the mandatory period, Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma said, “It is clear from the hearing and the material on record… that the respondent (Home Ministry) had contravened the legal provisions.”
During the hearing, Home Ministry could not explain any reasons for not responding to the RTI application.
When asked further by the Commissioner, the Central Public Information Officer merely admitted they could not send any response as the file was not traceable.
“The respondent stated that without referring to the file it was difficult to provide a reply to the RTI application.
Respondent stated that as per his knowledge there was no order from the government to conduct an inquiry but they had to confirm this fact from the file only,” the CIC noted in the order.
On March 1, 2013, in a statement on the issue of alleged rape and murder of three minor girls in Bhandara, Maharashtra, Shinde had made public the names of victims.
After the mistake was pointed out by Leader of Opposition in the Rajya Sabha Arun Jaitely, the names were expunged from the House records.
When asked by reporters, Shinde had said he had directed the Home Secretary to probe the matter as to how these names formed the part of his statement in Rajya Sabha.