Indian Express: New Delhi: Wednesday, February 8, 2017.
Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has said it has no information about any communication sent to BJP MPs, ministers and MLAs asking them to declare their bank transactions between November 8, the day Rs 1000 and Rs 500 notes were demonetised and December 31, 2016.
Responding to a RTI application filed by activists Venkatesh Nayak of CHRI and Jagdeep Chokar of Association for Democratic Reforms seeking a photo copy of communication issued to ministers and the BJP MPs and MLAs, the PMO said it has no “information” in this regard.
Under the Right to Information Act, “Information” is defined as “any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force”.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi, on November 29 last year, had asked BJP MPs and MLAs to submit their bank account statements of transaction between November 8, the day he announced demonetisation, and December 31 to party chief Amit Shah on January 1.
Modi’s direction at the BJP Parliamentary Party meeting had come following allegations by Opposition parties that the BJP had tipped off some of its own leaders ahead of the demonetisation announcement.
“It is not clear whether the Hon’ble PM’s directive to his ministers, BJP MPs and legislators remained merely verbal or was reduced to writing by anybody in government. The directive assumes importance because it was made at the meeting of the BJP’s Parliamentary Party which comprises all representatives elected by the people. Surely, the people have the right to know these details about their elected representatives,” Nayak said.
He said when people have the right to know details of the movable and immovable assets of politicians even before they get elected, surely, there is no reasonable basis for denying access to transactions of ministers, MPs and legislators who are first and foremost people’s elected representatives.
Nayak said there is overbearing public interest to know whether the Prime Minister’s directive was sent to the ministers and party MLAs and MPs in writing; whether they have complied with it; and whether the Income Tax Department is scrutinising their transactions with as much enthusiasm and promptness as they are doing with the transactions of other citizens.