The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Prime Minister's Office and the ministries of external affairs and home to make public the records of the Raj Narain committee, constituted in 1977 to look into the mysterious death of the then PM Lal Bahadur Shastri.
The committee was constituted by the Janata Party government to look into the circumstances surrounding the death of Shastri on January 11, 1966, in Tashkent, hours after signing a declaration with Pakistan President Muhammad Ayub Khan post-1965 Indo-Pak war. The talks were moderated by Soviet Premier Alexei Kosygin.
The records related to the committee are reportedly untraceable, the commission noted.
Information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu also directed the PMO, the MEA and the MHA to publish the statement of categories of documents regarding the death of the second PM of India that are available with them. "The public authorities referred above have a constitutional duty to inform and the people have legitimate expectation to know the truth behind the death of their beloved leader. More so, it is the primary responsibility of the PMO to inform the people what happened to late Lal Bahadur Shastri, who once was its head," he said.
Acharyulu's directive came on an RTI application that sought information from the MHA whether Shastri's body was brought to India for cremation or he was he cremated in the then USSR and sought a copy of the post-mortem. Although he reportedly died from a massive heart attack, questions were raised on the circumstances of his death on foreign soil.
The conspiracy theories were further fuelled after the central government started denying documents, under the RTI Act, related to his death calling them secret and disclosure prejudicial to the interests of the country.
The MHA had transferred the application of Navdeep Gupta to the National Archives. During the hearing, the Central Public Information Officer, representing the NAI, told CIC that the information may be with MEA, Indian embassy in Russia, MHA or some other authority.