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CIC allows Centre to withhold list of seized materials

November 07, 2020 05:48 AM


CIC allows Centre to withhold list of seized materials
4,000 items were recovered by a central agency during Operation Bluestar at the Golden Temple

An RTI activist had sought the details from home ministry. HT FILE
Press Trust of India

New Delhi : The central information commission (CIC) has allowed the Centre to withhold the list of documents and precious material seized by a central agency during the 1984 operation at the Golden Temple in Amritsar in which 576 people, including army personnel, were killed.

A right to information (RTI) applicant, Gurvinder Singh Chadha, had demanded from the Union home ministry a list of all material seized during the operation and its present status as well as all records related to the operation and the list of all those who died during the operation conducted by the army to flush out militants holed up inside Golden Temple.

Without giving the list and details of the seized material, the ministry said in its RTI response to Chadha that: “About 4,000 documents/books/files and gold/gold ornaments, silver/silver ornaments, precious stones currency, coins etc. were recovered by a central agency during Operation Bluestar. The articles and documents were handed over either to the Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) or to the Government of Punjab.”

“As per records available with this office, 493 terrorists/civilians and 83 army officials were killed in the Golden Temple area in June 1984,” the home ministry said.

Dissatisfied with the denial of specific information about the seized material, Chadha filed the first appeal within the ministry before a senior official who upheld the denial of information, invoking Section 8 1(a) of the RTI Act.

The Section allows the government to withhold information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.

RTI applicant Chadha not satisfied with response

During the second appeal before the central information commission, the highest adjudication body in RTI matters, Chadha said that a satisfactory response was not yet provided on points related to records of Operation Bluestar and a list of material seized during it.

The ministry said a point wise response was provided to Chadha but the details sought pertained to confidential information, the disclosure of which could prejudicially affect the safety and security of the country.

Agreeing with the home ministry’s view, information commissioner YK Sinha held Chadha has sought “vague, ambiguous and generic information” that cannot be disclosed in terms of the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. “Hence, no further intervention of the commission is warranted in the matter,” Sinha said.

SGPC demands return of artefacts

The SGPC has been demanding the return of artefacts, allegedly taken away by the army during Operation Bluestar in 1984.

In June last year, SGPC chief secretary Roop Singh had said the holy scriptures, artefacts and historical books, which were part of the Sikh Reference Library, were taken away by the army during the operation.

When asked that a section of media had reported that the Centre had returned the artefacts to the SGPC, Singh had claimed that only a few copies of historical books were returned.

He had said still a large quantity of material and handwritten copies of the Guru Granth Sahib were with the Centre.

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