New Delhi | The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), while accepting the existence of 41 files related to Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, including two declassified documents, has refused to disclose the contents taking a position similar to that of the previous 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 reply to RTI activist Subhash Agrawal.
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.
A list of files unclassified/classified/declassified with number and subject matter relating to Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose is enclosed, the PMO said.
The PMO gave a list of 41 files, of which two related to INA treasure and appointment of an inquiry commission to go into circumstances of death, have been declassified and sent to the National Archives of India.
The office, in its response, admitted that there are 10 files which are unclassified but still invoked exemption clause of section 8(1) to withhold them from disclosure.
Four ‘Top Secret’ files which are held by the PMO include miscellaneous correspondence with and about widow and daughter of Netaji, transfer of his ashes to India and two files on the Justice Mukherjee Commission of Inquiry looking into his death/disappearance, it said.
There are 20 files classified as ‘Secret’ including one related to acquisition of Jankinath Bhavan – birth place of Netaji – by then Orissa government, five files from the late 1960s on the appointment of inquiry committee to go into the circumstances of death of Netaji, correspondence with and about his wife and daughter, another inquiry commission to look into treasure of INA, two references from Samar Guha, MP on his disappearance, Bharat Ratna award to Netaji and number of files on his death/disappearance among others.
The rest of the files are categorised as ‘Classified’ which include issues related to mortal remains kept in Rankoji temple in Japan while on the rest no particular subject is mentioned. Commenting on the development, RTI applicant Agrawal said, Public interest definitely outweighs the protected as several commissions/committees have been formed by the Union government to probe mystery in death of Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose.