Sujatha Singh’s removal documents withheld by Cab Secretariat

New Delhi: Cabinet Secretariat has refused to disclose files related to removal of the then Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh saying Cabinet records are prohibited from disclosure under the RTI Act.

Former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh
Former Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh
In response to an application by activist Venkatesh Nayak of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative, the Cabinet Secretariat has cited section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act for withholding the documents.

The section is used for withholding the Cabinet documents but it has a proviso which allows the disclosure of documents once the decision has been finalised.

Under Secretary Rajesh Nagpal, CPIO in the Cabinet Secretariat, said, “As per the records available, Ms Sujatha Singh, former Foreign Secretary, GoI, had sought voluntary retirement from the service with immediate effect.”

“Further, 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,” he said.

Nagpal said in the light of this, the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) had approved curtailment of Singh’s tenure as Foreign Secretary with immediate effect and appointment of Jaishankar as her successor.

“The copies of available file notings/papers on this matter related to ACC approval being ‘Cabinet Papers’ are exempted from disclosure under Section 8(1)(i) of the RTI Act, 2005.

“In this regard, it is also informed that office of Establishment Officer under the Department of Personnel and Training being the Secretariat of the ACC had filed LPA (s) in the High Court of Delhi and the matter of disclosure of ACC file notings is still sub judice,” he said.