New Delhi: Whether computer systems of National Informatics Centre were used to alter the Wikipedia page of former Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and post scandalous information about him and who had done it?
The NIC, software solution provider of the government, has refused to part with the information to these questions on the grounds it may have "security implications".
The response which does not cite any exemption clauses given in the transparency law, mandatory while withholding the information sought under the RTI Act, says the reply is based on the input received from the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)-IN.
"Based on the input from CERT.IN, it is seen that there may be security implications in sharing the information. Thus the same may not be shared," the response from CPIO of National Informatics Centre Swarup Dutta said.
The RTI applicant had sought from the Department of Electronic and Information Technology the details of IP address 126.96.36.199 which was allegedly used to alter the Wikipedia page on prime ministers of India in which malicious information about Nehru was posted on it.
The NIC was also asked to provide the names of the officers who used the IP address at the time of content of Wikipedia being edited. The applicant had also sought to know if any inquiry was initiated in the matter.
Surprisingly, the NIC did not cite any of the 10 subsections of Section eight of the Right to Information Act for withholding information which is mandatory under the Act.
Recently, government said in Lok Sabha that a probe has been launched in the matter but NIC did not respond to this question in its RTI response.
"Actions have been initiated to investigate into the incident and determine the source of edit," Telecom Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad has said.
According to various decisions of the CIC and high courts, denial of information is "exception" hence it must be accompanied with proper explanation about the reasons for withholding the information.
The section 8(2) of the Right to Information Act says notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.
After the reports emerged about the alleged changes from the government department, the Congress had termed it a "cheap, undemocratic and gutter level tactic", as it demanded a "full enquiry" and lodging of a criminal case into the reported changes made from a central government IP address on Wikipedia pages to show that Nehru was of Muslim lineage.
"A deliberate, sinister and malicious attempt was made... to alter the Wikipedia pages of... Jawaharlal Nehru, his father Motilal Nehru and grandfather Gangadhar by showing or attempting to show that their lineage was not 'Kaul' of Jammu and Kashmir but lineage... was Muslim," Congress chief spokesperson Randeep Surjewala had said.
He had also said that what made the case "very serious" was that this attempt was made from an IP address of NIC.