A five-decade-old government document that allowed the current Nizam of Hyderabad to use the title despite monarchy being abolished has gone missing, PTI reported on Monday. Neither the Home Ministry nor the National Archives were able to trace the file when they got a Right to Information query.

Mir Barkat Ali Khan, the titular nizam, got the title through the Union government’s “certificate of recognition” when his grandfather died in February 1967. His grandfather Osman Ali Khan was the last Nizam of Hyderabad before monarchy was abolished in 1948. After this, the “nizam” was reduced to a titular – or “pretender” – status.

The National Archives said the Home Ministry never shared with it the files when it was formed in 1981.

In an order, the Central Information Commission said the Home Ministry was “expected to be much more diligent in their record keeping”. An “uncertain and ambiguous reply” cannot be accepted from the ministry, the order said, according to PTI.

The government should form a committee to identify such files of historical importance and hand them over to the National Archives, the order by Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad said.

“This would be a real treasure house for researchers and scholars as well as the public at large while browsing through the pages of history,” the order said, asking the ministry to look for the document afresh.

The order observed that the National Archives is “certain that no such file was received by them”, and the Home Ministry “did not appear certain about the existence of the file” either.