Where are crucial records related to the 1993 N N Vohra committee report, constituted to probe links among organised criminals, mafia and politicians? According to former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi, an RTI application filed by him seeking information on this has kept changing hands in various departments of the union home ministry for last two years with every department telling him that data is not held by them. Gandhi has sought a copy of the committee report along with all the annexures and note sheets. The Central Information Commission had directed the internal security wing of the ministry to gather information from the department where the application has been held and provide it to Gandhi. But even after the direction, the department, where it has been transferred to, has responded that it only has the report but no annexures or note sheets are available. The committee constituted in the aftermath of the 1993 Mumbai serial blasts was chaired by the then home secretary N N Vohra, who is currently governor of Jammu and Kashmir. With members from the RAW, the Intelligence Bureau and the CBI, it was tasked with taking stock of all available information about the activities of the crime syndicates/mafia organisations which had developed links with, and were being protected by government functionaries and political personalities.
The committee had submitted its report in October, 1993. “I had filed this RTI application in November, 2015. The application was being transferred from one department to another for over 150 days with every department telling me that the information was not held with them,” Gandhi told PTI over phone. In his appeal with the Central Information Commission filed last year, Gandhi said, “the First appellate authority (of home ministry) has also not applied his mind and blandly stated that the concerned desk does not have the information, and does not know who has it! This makes a complete joke of the provisions of the RTI Act.” “… The Commission, in a plethora of orders, has held that it is only when the information sought is held by another public authority or the subject matter is connected with the functions of another public authority, can the CPIO transfer the RTI application to the other public authority. “Otherwise, the CPIO has to provide the information sought for to the information seeker,” Information Commissioner Sudhir Bhargava said in a recent order.
Agreeing with the arguments of Gandhi, Bhargava said the officer instead of transferring the RTI application to another desk of the MHA should have sought assistance of any other officer in the ministry, under Section 5(4) of the RTI Act, for the proper discharge of his duties. “The commission, therefore, directs Shri Mukesh Mangal, Director (IS-1), MHA to obtain information from the concerned division of the MHA and furnish it to the appellant within a period of four weeks from the date of receipt of a copy of this order,” he said. After the order, the internal security department has claimed it has found a 13-page report but the annexures and other details as sought by Gandhi are not in its records.