Copy of the letter written by CM of J&K to the PM sought under RTI
The appellant referred to a news story ‘Army Apology to Omar for Slamming Troop Cuts’ published in a newspaper and sought a certified copy of the letter written by Chief Minister of Jammu & Kashmir to the Prime Minister of India. He also wanted to know the action taken report on the letter. The Public Information Officer (PIO) denied the information by invoking section 8(1)(a) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence; of Right to Information (RTI) Act and stated that the matter was related to security issues.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the appellant argued that the desired information cannot be denied by merely referring to an exemption provision. The respondents submitted that the request of the appellant had been seriously considered by the appropriate authorities in the national security establishment and they had advised that the contents of the letter or the action taken on that should not be disclosed looking to the sensitivity of the issue and the likely impact of such disclosure on the situation in J and K. The appellant also argued that larger public interest would warrant disclosure of such information and referred to section 8(2) 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. of the RTI Act in this regard.
View of CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) observed that the PIO had not explained as to how the disclosure of the desired information would affect the national security. The Commission rejected the appeal observing that, if in the opinion of the experts in the national secret establishment, the contents of the letter and the follow-up action on that would have adverse effect on the national security; larger public interest would probably be served by keeping it confidential rather than to disclose it in the public domain. The Commission also advised the PIO to give speaking orders in future when he decides to deny any information.
Citation: Mr. Ajay M Marathe v. Prime Minister’s Office in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/001727
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/542
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