Perarivalan, whose application for remission of sentence was earlier rejected by the Centre, approached the Commission challenging the reply.
New Delhi: The orders granting or denying remission to life term convicts post 2000 should be put on the Union home ministry website, the Central Information Commission has said on a petition by a Rajiv Gandhi assassination convict. The CIC, the top appellate authority in the matters pertaining to the Right to Information Act, held that it is in public interest that people get to know as to why a convict is being released.
Hearing the petition filed by A.G. Perarivalan, a convict in the former Prime Minister’s assassination case, Information Commissioner Yashov-ardhan Azad directed the home ministry public information commissioner to place all orders granting or denying remission to life convicts from the year 2000 onwards on the website of the MHA.
In addition to the copy of orders, Perarivalan, through his RTI application, had also sought to know if any rules have been framed by the Centre on granting remission as directed by the Supreme Court. He had also sought the copies of communication issued by the Centre to the state governments refraining them from granting remission.
The home ministry did not give a clear response to Perarivalan’s queries, stating the matter was “sub-judice”. It, however, said 20 death sentences have been commuted to life terms by the President between 2010 and 2015.
Perarivalan, whose application for remission of sentence was earlier rejected by the Centre, approached the Commission challenging the reply. In his order, Azad noted, “The PIO failed to apply his mind and sought a blanket refuge under the guise of the matter being sub-judice. It is well settled that that mere pendency of a matter before a Court of Law does not render all information espousing the matter as exempted under the RTI Act,” Terming the reply as “bad in law”, Azad said there was no specific direction from the Supreme Court not to disclose such information. He said all that Perarivalan sought to know was the documented policy and rules governing the remission of convicts in light of a judicial pronouncement by the Supreme Court in a case dealing with the remission of the sentence of Rajiv Gandhi assassination convicts by the Tamil Nadu government.
“The Commission hastens to clarify that the right of appellant to know the rules governing him has no impact on any judicial verdict. Rather, it is in larger public interest that such rules, if in existence, may be widely circulated,” he said.
On the demand of making public remission orders issued by the Centre for convicts across India, Azad noted the public information officer has not taken a position in this regard.