Central Information Commission: In a recent RTI appeal before Commission, applicant belonging to Bharath Pakistan Bangladesh Ekikaran Andolan filed RTI application in 2015 seeking certified copies of all written documents and allied information pertaining to partition of India on 14th and 15th of August 1947; certified copies of official papers bearing signatures of all the authorities/freedom fighters/politicians before West Pakistan (presently Pakistan) came into existence.
The CPIO to whom the application was filed denied the existence of any such documents with their office and forwarded the application to National Archives of India. The CPIO said that such applications were frequently being filed before them, but only document that they had in response to these questions was ‘Indian Independence Act, 1947’ passed by British Parliament. The respondent also submitted that they were also trying to contact the UK Parliament for any documents pertaining to transfer of power. However, the only authentic document with them was 1947 Act.
The Commission noted that it was relevant to extract the historic details in this regard and with regard to 1947 Act, it mentioned that original digital Act would be available on http://www.legislation.gov.uk/ukpga/1947/30/pdfs/ukpga_19470030_en.pdf.
The Commission further discussed the salient features of the Act and found it important to mention that the Act was repealed by Art. 395 of the Constitution of India and Art. 221 of the Constitution of Pakistan of 1956 to obtain true independence for the new states. The Commission further observed and highlighted in the judgment that though, technically the new Constitutions did not have ‘authority’ to repeal this Act, it was done to sever the legal chain of validity and establish the constitution as an independent legal system.
After thorough research, Commissioner M. Sridhar Acharyulu talked about the Mountbatten plan of independence which is supposed to be the last plan of independence. He appreciated appellant for raising an important issue of tracing documents regarding the transfer of power, which is an interesting research question that should have been authentically answered.
The Commission said that the historical landmark developments are recorded in certain documents, availability of which is not authentically known. However, they could be available with India Office in UK or with UK administration or with any other authority in India and they should have been available with the National Archives of India after collection by the Indian Government from various sources.
After such important observations, the Commission directed the Ministry of External Affairs, the PMO and Culture to collect all authentic documents from different sources and supply the same to the National Archives of India and latter has been directed to coordinate with the concerned Ministries to collect the documents and make them publicly accessible. [Madan Lal Narula v. PIO, National Archives of India, CIC/SH/A/2016/001590, decided on 16.11.2017]