The Central Information Commission has pulled up the Home Ministry for its incomplete response to a Right to Information request for details on 13 inquiry panel reports on communal riots that took place between 1961 and 2003, PTI reported. In its response, the ministry had said it did not have the reports.

The ministry “neither provided information nor transferred the RTI application [to an authority that could],” Information Commissioner Bimal Julka said after hearing a plea by Anjali Bhardwaj, who had filed the RTI request. The ministry has not “even furnished any reasonable justification for such complete inaction”, he said.

Julka called the conduct of the public information officer of the ministry “totally unacceptable” and said the information Bhardwaj had requested involves larger public interest. He also observed the “unexplained, unreasoned but consistent” approach of the ministry in shirking its role as the custodian of information.

Bhardwaj had sought information on complete reports of various inquiry or judicial commissions set up to look into communal riots. A working group was set up by the ministry in 2006 to study 29 such reports, but only 16 of them are on the ministry’s website, she said. After hearing her plea, the Central Information Commission asked Home Secretary Rajiv Gauba to depute a senior official to look into the matter and find the status of the 13 reports. The ministry must also submit a detailed report in 15 days.

The commission asked for an explanation on why the reports were not available on the website, who the custodian of the information was, why the RTI query was not transferred to them, and why punitive action should not be taken for causing deliberate obstruction to the flow of information under the RTI Act.