Centre not to release Moily's letter to PM on Lokpal panel

Centre not to release Moily's letter to PM on Lokpal panel

Through the letter, Moily purportedly made suggestions to accept the demand for constituting a joint drafting committee on the bill in the light of Anna Hazare’s agitation.

The Law and Justice Ministry maintained that the communication was sent by Moily to Manmohan Singh in April in his personal capacity and mentioned his personal views as a “political thinker”.

“M Veerappa Moily, Minister of Law and Justice, has written to the prime minister in his personal capacity as a thinker of the political party and not as the Minister of Law and Justice. Views formed by him to encourage a dialogue, including any suggestion to set up a joint drafting committee to draft the lokpal bill, are his personal views and attract the provision of the 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, 2005. In view of this, it would not be possible to provide a copy of the letter written by Moily to the prime minister,” Central Public Information Officer Nirmal Singh said.

The reply was given to RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal on May 24 to an application sent more than a month before on April 11.

Agrawal challenged the decision of the Ministry’s central public information officer before its appellate authority.

“It is indeed improper that the Union minister for law & justice who himself is a member of joint drafting committee for the lokpal bill may seek exemption under Section 8(1)(j) for what he communicated with the prime minister on constituting the committee, an aspect itself contrary to principles of transparency, which is behind success of agitation of Hazare and others.

Tricky moves

Moreover, it is in people’s interest to make public the letter of Moily to reveal about possible contents, if any, which he might have suggested to cool down the agitation against corruption by some tricky moves from the government. Making the letter public will remove any doubts about the sincerity of the government in the fight against corruption, he said.

The government on Tuesday decided to seek opinions from various quarters, including from political parties, on issues as to whether the prime minister, Supreme Court and High Court Judges should be included in the purview of the Lokpal.