Inquiry reports on 13 communal riots since 1961 ‘not available’, CIC asks MHA for status

NEW DELHI, Dec 30: The Central Information Commission has directed the Home Secretary to depute an official to find out the status of 13 inquiry commission reports on communal riots in the country since 1961, which Home Ministry officials claimed the MHA did not have.
Information Commissioner Bimal Julka’s directions came while hearing a plea by RTI activist Anjali Bhardwaj, who sought to know from the ministry, information on complete reports (including all volumes and annexure) of various inquiry commissions or judicial commissions on communal riots.
The CIC directed Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to depute a senior official to find out the status of the 13 reports, which are not available on the ministry’s website as well.
In 2006, the ministry had constituted a working group of National Integration Council to study the reports of judicial and inquiry commissions appointed over the years to investigate communal riots, Bhardwaj said.
The group studied 29 such reports, she said, adding she could not find 13 of them, relating to riots between 1961-2003, on the website of the ministry and filed an RTI plea to get a copy of those.
Through her application, she wanted reports of the Shiv Dayal Shrivastava commission on the 1961 Madhya Pradesh riots, the Justice Raghubar Dayal commission on the 1967 Bihar riots, the Justice P J Reddy commission on the 1969 Gujarat riots, the Prasad commission on the 1974 Delhi riots, the Justice V S Dave Commission on the 1985 Gujarat riots.
She also sought reports of the Justice P S Malvankar Commission on the 1986 Maharashtra riots, the Justice Haridas Das Commission on the 1988 West Bengal riots, the R H Heeraman Singh on the 1990 Andhra Pradesh riots, the Justice N L Tiberwal Commission on the 1990 Rajasthan riots.
Besides, sher had also asked for the Justice K K Dubey Commission on the 1992 Madhya Pradesh riots, the Justice P R Gokulkrishnan Commission on the Tamil Nadu riots in 1998, the Justice Anant D Mane Commission on the 1999 Maharahtra riots and the Thomas P Joseph commission on the 2003 Kerala  riots.
Information Commissioner Julka said, “While 16 of the reports are already on website, information about remaining 13 of them have been sought by the appellant since they were not on web site.”
It is an admitted fact the MHA had constituted a committee to study the reports of judicial commissions and inquiry commissions about the anatomy of communal riots, he noted.
The MHA had constituted this committee to study the reports and during the hearing the respondents from the MHA stated no such report was submitted before them, he said.
“Respondent (MHA) has neither provided information nor transferred the RTI application. In fact, it is seen that the respondent has not even furnished any reasonable justification for such complete inaction,” he said.
In a stern observation, Julka said the issue raised by Bhardwaj involves larger public interest and thus the conduct of the public information officer (PIO) of the MHA is found “totally unacceptable”.
The “unexplained, unreasoned but consistent” approach of the respondent of shirking their role as custodian of information, and casual approach of the PIO is defeating the purpose of transparency and administration of the RTI regime, he observed. (PTI)