The Delhi High Court Tuesday stayed a Central Information Commission’s (CIC) order to the president’s office to make public all documents on declaration of the emergency in 1975 by the then president Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, including communications from the then prime minister Indira Gandhi.
Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw issued a notice to S.C. Aggarwal, a right to information (RTI) applicant, and stayed the CIC’s order till its further direction is passed.
The court issued notice after taking note of the submission of central public information officer (CPIO) of Rashtrapati Bhavan before the court that the documents were classified and privileged.
“The president’s secretariat is not liable to reveal the information and the CIC has no jurisdiction in law to pass such a direction,” said the CPIO.The CPIO also said that the CIC failed to bear in mind that the information it asked to disclose directly related to the records of the office of the president.
In doing so, the CIC failed to appreciate the scope of protection under article 74 of the constitution.
On June 15, the CIC asked the Rashtrapati Bhavan to make public all documents related to the declaration of the emergency.
The Rashtrapati Bhavan refused to disclose any information related to the advice tendered by Gandhi to Ahmed on the imposition of the emergency.”The question whether any, and if so what, advice was tendered by ministers to the president shall not be enquired into in any court,” the Rashtrapati Bhavan said, citing constitutional provisions.
According to the CIC order, the emergency was a challenge to India’s commitment to democracy and was symbolised by curtailment of fundamental rights of citizens, restrictions on the freedom of press, illegal detention, abuse of citizens and enactment of draconian laws.