PM’s call to light candles for 9 minutes at 9 PM: PMO rejects RTI application seeking details of speech

After sitting on the application for two month, the Prime Minister’s Office gave a one line response that the RTI was ‘in the form of a roving enquiry’ that did not fall under the purview of RTI Act

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media
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Vishwadeepak

The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has declined to entertain an RTI application seeking details of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s speech made on April 3 during he gave a call to countrymen to light candles and lamps for 9 minutes at 9 pm on April 5, after sitting on the application for nearly two months.

In his 11-minute message to the people, the PM had termed it as an attempt to show Coronavirus, the strength of Indian unity and ‘light’. “We must all go through this darkness together. Those who are most affected by this are the poor and marginalised. To overcome this darkness, we must all unite to spread the light. Make this darkness of Coronavirus meet the light we all spread,” the Prime Minister had said as India completed the first ten days of the 21-day lockdown.

The PMO gave a one line response to the application filed by RTI activist and journalist Navneet Chaturvedi, saying, “The query sought is in the form of roving enquiry and does not come under the definition of information as per Section 2 (f) of the RTI Act, 2005”.

Seeking information under the RTI Act 2005,Chaturvedi had filed an application asking:

  • Whether PM Modi’s speech that he delivered on April 3, was prepared by the PMO or any other agency?
  • On which date the speech note was submitted to the PM Modi?
  • Date and time of video recording.

He received the reply sent by the PMO on June4.

Reacting to the denial of information under the RTI Act, Chaturvedi said that the Modi government has made a mockery of the RTI Act.

“Instead of fighting the battle against the pandemic with scientific temperament, the PM resorted to symbolism,” he said.

When asked why he sought to know the name of the speech writer, Chaturvedi explained, “I sought to know the name of the speech writer because I believe sanctity of the PMO must be maintained. The PMO is not supposed to work as a political branch of the ruling party and PM’s speech was full of symbolism and falsehood, therefore it is important to know the name of the writer.”

Talking to NH, Chaturvedi said that he has filed an RTI with the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) also, seeking information about the “availability of firecrackers”, which were widely used by people during the event. “But the MHA has not replied yet though 60 days have passed,” said Chaturvedi.

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