New Delhi, Nov 30: The BJP-led government has refused to make public nearly 39 classified files on the mysterious disappearance of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose and related matters, in sharp contrast to the demands of disclosure raised by its senior leaders when in Opposition.
In January when the Lok Sabha election campaign was at its peak, the then BJP president Rajnath Singh, during a visit to Cuttack - the birthplace of Netaji - on the occasion of his 117th birth anniversary, had demanded that the UPA government make public the records related to the freedom fighter. Singh is now the Home Minister.
The Prime Minister's Office (PMO) in a recent RTI reply accepted that there were 41 files related to Bose, of which two had been declassified, but refused to disclose them taking a position similar to that of the erstwhile Congress-led UPA government.
"Disclosure of documents contained in these files would prejudicially affect relations with foreign countries. As such, these files are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) read with Section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act," the PMO said in its reply to RTI activist Subhash Agrawal.
Singh had claimed during the election campaign that there was larger public interest in the disclosure of the documents, but the PMO under Modi seems not to be in agreement as is evident from the reply which considered the larger public interest disclosure clause - section 8(2) - of the RTI Act but chose to withhold the documents.
The section 8(2) says, "Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section(1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests."
"The entire country is impatient to know as to how Netaji died and under what circumstances," Singh had said, releasing a book on the eve of Netaji's birth anniversary in Cuttack on January 22.