Chapter

Papers of Previous Regimes<sup>1</sup>

A.G. Noorani

in CONSTITUTIONAL QUESTIONS AND CITIZENS' RIGHTS

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195678291
Published online October 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199080588 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195678291.003.0101
Papers of Previous Regimes1

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This chapter attempts to understand if a minister can call for and examine the papers of the previous governments. In India, there have been judicial censures on tamperings with official documents. From a legal standpoint, official records are property of the Union or the State, and thus can be used only for the purposes of the Union or the State for clear 'public purpose' and not for partisan ends. Hence, no government has a right to dig up old records and publish them for their own interests. In Britain, there is a convention, which has also received judicial recognition, that, the ministers of one government are not entitled to examine the Cabinet documents of their predecessors. However, this is not the case in India. The Supreme Court ruled in 1969 that a successor of a ministry can consider any glaring charges and may order on inquiry or else corrupt conduct of ministers will remain beyond scrutiny. This obviously cannot be done without going into the records of its predecessors. The minister, however, is not free to call for just any file; there must be clear public purpose behind the demand for a file.

Keywords: ministers; civil servants; official documents; India; Cabinet documents; Public purpose

Chapter.  1890 words. 

Subjects: Constitutional and Administrative Law

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