New Delhi, Nov 14 : The External Affairs Ministry does not know who was its minister in December, 1984 when Bhopal Gas tragedy accused Warren Anderson, the then Union Carbide Chief, left the country after securing bail.
In a strange reply, the Ministry has said the question who held the charge of External Affairs ministry in December 1984 relates to Chemical and Fertilisers Ministry and referred the same to the Cabinet Secretariat for providing the answer.
"Since the subject matters raised on these points pertain to the functioning of the Ministry of Chemicals and Fertilisers, points (4) and (5) of the application are transferred under section 6 (3)(ii) of the RTI Act, 2005 for necessary action," Joint Secretary in the Ministry, Debraj Pradhan said while transferring the application to Cabinet Secretariat.
A copy of the letter was sent to the applicant.
In point five, referred in the statement, the applicant had asked "who held the charge as the Minister for external affairs during the period December 1-10, 1984?"
Later, a reply also came to the applicant in which the Ministry reiterated its stand saying it has no information and the point has been transferred to the Cabinet Secretariat.
An RTI application seeking details on the exit of Warren Anderson was filed on June 18. The Ministry initially did not provide any reply to set of questions.
It was only after Central Information Commission slapped a show-cause notice to the Ministry and gave a deadline of November 30 to provide the reply that answers came.
"The Commission...directs the Public Information Officer, Ministry of External Affairs to provide the information sought by the complainant by November 30, 2010.
"The complainant may also be allowed inspection of relevant filed and be provided with the attested copies of documents, including file notings, if required, keeping in view provisions of...the RTI Act, free of cost," Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit held in her order.
Anderson had reached Bhopal from the US nearly three days after the gas tragedy struck the city on the intervening night of December 2-3, 1984 killing over 15,000 people.
On his arrival, he was arrested by local police and later granted bail by a local court.
But he left the country on December 7 and remained evasive since then. He was allegedly allowed to use an aircraft of Madhya Pradesh government to come to Delhi from Bhopal from where he returned to the US.
The CBI has been consistently pursuing the matter of extradition of Warren Anderson since 1993. PTI