RTI plea seeks Clause 6 report status
A Guwahati-based advocate Santanu Borthakur has taken the RTI route to get information about what the state government did with the Clause 6 report after it was submitted to Assam chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal on February 25 by a committee constituted by the Union ministry of home affairs in July 2019.
“I filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the home and political department and the Assam Accord department on September 21 to know in details what steps have been taken by the government on the Clause 6 report between February 25 and September 20. I want to know things like meetings or discussions held, when these were held, their minutes — to clear our doubts,” Borthakur, who practises in Gauhati High Court, told The Telegraph on Wednesday evening.
Clause 6 of the 1985 Assam Accord, an outcome of the six-year-long Assam Movement against illegal foreigners, provides for constitutional, legislative and administrative safeguards “to protect, preserve and promote the cultural, social, linguistic identity and heritage of the Assamese people”.
Borthakur said he filed the RTI application because there were a lot of speculations surrounding an important document like the Clause 6 report, which most believe will secure the future of the state if implemented.
“People are saying the government sat on the report for over six months while the Centre says in Parliament that the recommendations of the committee are under examination of the state government. All speculations will end, all doubts will be cleared once I receive my answers,” Borthakur said.
The RTI application was filed by Borthakur on Monday, a day after cabinet minister Himanta Biswa Sarma told the media after a meeting with Union home minister Amit Shah that the Centre wanted the state government to get the Clause 6 report examined by legal experts to avoid future complications. Critics said the bid to vet the Clause 6 report allegedly smacked of inaction and insincerity to resolve issues pertaining to the state.
The Clause 6 committee had to submit its report to Sonowal after “failing” to get an audience with Shah in Delhi. However, three members of All Assam Students’ Union, also members of the committee, made the report public on August 12 since the government, according to them, was allegedly sitting on the report for about six months.
AASU chief adviser Samujjal Bhattacharjya had tweeted after the Centre’s revelation: “Planned inaction & reluctance of @mygovindia in implementing ClauseVI Committee Report of #AssamAccord is clear. Centre’s claim that @mygovassam is yet to forward report shows hypocrisy & insincerity. Demand safeguard as enshrined in Report alongside fulfilment of PM & HM’s promise.”
Congress MP from Assam, Gaurav Gogoi, raised the issue in the Lok Sabha on September 21, dubbing the government move to get the report examined by legal experts as a “delaying tactic” to postpone the consideration of the report.
He also wanted the government to clarify when it will accept the committee’s report, a statement issued by his office said.