Finance Ministry refuses to disclose whether Jaitley was consulted on notes ban

The Finance ministry has refused to disclose whether Arun Jaitley was consulted before the announcement of demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016.

Finance Ministry refuses to disclose whether Jaitley was consulted on notes ban

The Finance ministry has refused to disclose whether Arun Jaitley was consulted before the announcement of demonetisation by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on November 8, 2016.

The Prime Minister's Office and the Reserve Bank of India had earlier claimed that the query whether the Finance Minister and the Chief Economic Advisor were consulted before the announcement does not come under the definition of "information" under the RTI Act.

The definition of "information" under the Act refers to "any material in any form" under the control of a public authority.

The response of the Finance Ministry to an RTI query filed by Press Trust of India assumes significance as it acknowledges that there are records pertaining to the question but they cannot be disclosed under the Right to Information Act.

The Finance Ministry has taken refuge under the exemption clause of section 8(1)(a) of the Act to deny the information.

It did not, however, give any reasons as to how the information would attract the section.

The section allows withholding information "disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence".

According to procedure, a first appeal can be filed with the Ministry concerned which is to be handled by a senior official. If it is unsuccessful, the matter escalates to the Central Information Commission, the top adjudicating body on the RTI Act.