The Supreme Court-appointed Special Investigation Team (SIT),which probed nine key cases of post-Godhra riots,is exempt from queries under the Right to Information (RTI) Act,according to the state government.
An RTI application filed by The Indian Express with the home department on January 18 this year,seeking information on the number of trips SIT chief R K Raghavan made to Gujarat,the expenses incurred and whether the state government had set aside a budget for the SIT,has failed to get any information so far.
Raghavan,a former CBI director,first arrived in Gujarat in 2008 to head the probe,but was never based here. The SIT,though,was given an office in the Old Sachivalaya in Gandhinagar.
On February 3,the government replied to the RTI application,saying the information sought could not be given. To back its claim,it attached a state governments notification issued on October 25,2005,stating the departments and bodies exempted from the RTI Act included State Intelligence Bureau (all intelligence wings),Anti-Terrorism Squad,Detection of Crime Branch and special branches formed under the Home Department.
Though there was no mention of SIT in the notification,the governments reply said SIT fell under the special branches of the home department. This newspaper filed an appeal on February 16.
After hearing the appeal on March 12,Rahul Gupta,the deputy secretary (law and order) who is also the the appellate authority,ruled the state government could not furnish the information. He too cited the same notification of 2005.
Gupta,however,said a second appeal could be made,if desired. After noting down the papers oral appeal,the appellate authority passed an order on March 14,once again ruling that the information could not be given.