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Sushma Swaraj's ministry says no to RTI on Lalit Modi passport

PTI 29 Jun 2015, 7:41:59 IST

New Delhi: At a time when External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj is under fierce attack from the Opposition for "helping" Lalit Modi obtain UK travel documents, her ministry has refused to provide any information about the passport issue involving the scandal-tainted former chief of the Indian Premier League or IPL.

The ministry has refused to answer a Right to Information or RTI application containing seven questions, including who took the decision to not appeal the Delhi High Court's decision restoring Mr Modi's passport in the Supreme Court.

"Kindly note that the office of External Affairs Minister has informed that the questions in Serial 1 to 3 of your RTI does not seem to fall under the purview of the RTI act, 2005. As regards to queries Sl No 4 to 7, no information is available with EAM's office," the External Affairs Ministry said in its reply dated June 26.

The External Affairs Ministry, however, said the application has been "transferred" to its Consular, Passport and Visa Division as well as to the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Home.

The RTI query, filed by a person from Haryana, was received by the Ministry on June 19.

The first three questions included why Ms Swaraj did not advise Mr Modi to apply for a temporary travel document to the Indian High Commission in London if she intended to help him on humanitarian grounds to travel to Portugal. It also asked why the External Affairs Minister did not insist on Mr Modi's return to India as a condition for issuing a temporary Indian travel document.

The questions from Serial number 4 to 7 included a query on whether the government has lodged any objections to the UK for granting residency permit to Mr Modi, who has refused to appear before the Enforcement Directorate (ED), and what steps the government has taken since the issuance of fresh passport to the former IPL boss to enforce the ED summons.

The RTI application also asked about the government's response to Mr Modi's "wild charge that his life will be in danger if he returned to India."