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Won't disclose file notings on Afzal mercy plea, says govt

January 29, 2010 16:26 IST

The disclosure of file notings on the mercy petition of Parliament attack convict Afzal Guru may prejudicially affect country's sovereignty and integrity, the Ministry of Home Affairs has said. The Ministry rejected an RTI application seeking file notings on the petition, citing "safety and security concern." It said the petition is under examination in the Ministry as comments from Delhi government are "still awaited" on the matter.

As per rules, the comments of the government of the state where the crime has been committed has to be taken before deciding on a mercy petition. The MHA said, "The matter is under consideration in this Ministry in consultation with the government of national capital territory of Delhi for submission to the President's secretariat for a final decision. A request for getting copies of the file notings, therefore, is declined under Section 8(1) (a) of the RTI Act in view of the safety and security concern."

As per Section 8(1)(a) of the Act, disclosure of information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of the country or its security, strategic, scientific or economic interests can be withheld.

Replying to the RTI application filed by advocate Vivek Garg, the home ministry said mercy petition filed by Afzal's wife Tabassum on his behalf is being examined in this Ministry in consultation with the Delhi government. "Comments of the Delhi government are awaited," it said. The MHA said a number of reminders, latest on November 27, 2009, have been sent to the Delhi Government in this matter.

"After receipt of comments, the petition will be placed before the President for taking a decision in this matter," it said. The Central government said a large number of representations on behalf of the condemned prisoner from various individuals or quarters, in and outside India, have also been received for grant as well as not to grant clemency to him.

Guru was sentenced to death by a Delhi Court for his role in the December 13, 2001 attack on Parliament in which nine security personnel were killed and 16 others were seriously injured. The sentence which was to be carried out on October 20, 2006, as per the court order, was stayed because of mercy petition filed by Guru's wife.

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