Sujatha Singh’s sacking details blocked? Cabinet Secretariat says cabinet … – Economic Times

NEW DELHI: Five months after the Narendra Modi government sacked the then foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, it has refused to divulge under the Right to Information Act the Cabinet note or any other details related to the controversial decision The Cabinet Secretariat has not divulged the Cabinet note, file notings and papers related to the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) meeting on January 28, which had decided to replace Singh with S Jaishankar.

“Copies of available file notings/ papers on this matter (related to ACC’s approval) being ‘Cabinet papers’ are exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1) (i) of the RTI Act,” the Cabinet Secretariat said in its reply. Section 8 (1) (i) prevents disclosure of Cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the council of ministers, secretaries and other officers. However, it says that any decision which is complete has to be disclosed. “Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken and the matter is complete, or over…”

The Cabinet Secretariat’s reply came in response to an application filed by RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak, who sought a photocopy of the Cabinet note, file notings, the names of the people who attended the ACC meeting and the minutes of the meeting.

Sujatha Singh's sacking details blocked? Cabinet Secretariat says cabinet papers exempted from disclosure However, the Cabinet Secretariat did not even divulge who attended the ACC meeting. It only said that Singh had sought voluntary retirement from service, repeating information already available in the public domain.

“External affairs minister had, while approving the voluntary retirement, sought approval of the Prime Minister for curtailment of tenure of Ms Sujatha Singh and suggested appointment of Dr S Jaishankar (IFS:1977) as foreign secretary vice Ms Sujatha Singh,” the Cabinet Secretariat said in its reply. It further said that file notings cannot be disclosed as the matter is sub judice in some other cases before Delhi High Court.

“The Cabinet Secretariat’s reliance on Delhi High Court cases is completely misplaced,” Nayak told ET. “The high court has given repeated orders allowing disclosure of ACC file notings in a number of cases. Even if some other cases are sub judice, there is no stay order on disclosure.”

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