The Central Information Commission has directed the National Archives of India (NAI) to create a special icon or window on its website’s home page for easy access to records related to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said the NAI has to develop a mechanism of easy access to the assassination records along with information of Gandhi’s life and national movement. “In online records of NAI, one will find the title of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose papers. There is also a separate page for Netaji papers, which can be accessed by a click of a mouse. There is no such easy access to Mahatma Gandhi papers,” he said. The commission also directed the NAI to make it easy for people to access records related to noted leaders like Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Guljari Lal Nanda and Indira Gandhi among others. “The commission finds it strange that why the NAI has not created access to papers of our father of nation Mahatma Gandhi, first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Sardar Vallabh Bhai Patel, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Guljari Lal Nanda and Indira Gandhi, etc,” Acharyulu noted.
He also instructed it to publish list of categories of records it has, catalogues etc as a voluntary disclosure under Section 4 of RTI Act. “In the first place, on priority, the Commission recommends the easy access mechanism, both physical and on line, to papers of father of the nation, as soon as possible and others within reasonable time,” Acharyulu directed the NAI, the official archive keeper of the country.
The case pertains to RTI applicant Nitin Sagar who approached the NAI seeking to know the process for obtaining documents like FIR, court proceedings, judgements relating to the murder trial of Gandhi claiming that he is neither a student nor a research scholar. The NAI said scholars, non-scholars or ordinary persons are invited and also provided with photocopies of documents sought by depositing Rs 2 per page as prescribed fee.
“The appellant wanted to know about the access to an ordinary person other than scholar and researcher. His RTI request should have been considered as a good suggestion to make such records available easily either on line or off the line,” Acharyulu said. He also said that if someone approaches through non-RTI route also they have to provide the easy access and other facilities, without postponing the access by 30 days. “The time of 30 prescribed under RTI Act is not to deny information till 29th day,” he said.