Details regarding procurement of special aircraft(s) for PM denied u/s 8(1)(a) – CIC holds that technical parameters and configurations cannot be disclosed – provide cost, make and date of procurement
1. The Appellant had requested the CPIO of the PMO to inform him about all the details available regarding the procurement of the special aircraft(s) for the Prime Minister of India including the relevant file notings, quotations from the manufacturers, approvals and the cost of the aircraft(s). The CPIO had transferred his RTI application which had eventually reached the Indian Air Force. The CPIO of the Indian Air Force had responded to the Appellant with the observation that the desired information could not be disclosed since it had security implications and was covered under the exemption provision contained in 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 the Right to Information (RTI) Act. It appears that he had preferred an appeal complaining that he had received no information on his RTI application. The PMO informed him about the transfer of his application.
2. During the hearing, the Appellant submitted that he should be provided with the available information in this regard excluding any details having any security implications. On the other hand, the respondent submitted that this information could not be shared because of its highly confidential nature.
3. We have carefully considered the facts of the case. It is understood that some of the aircrafts used by the President of India and the Prime Minister and other such highly placed dignitaries are purchased and maintained by the Indian Air Force. In the present case, it appears that the so called special aircraft(s) to which the Appellant has referred in his RTI application had been purchased by the Indian Air Force. Once the aircraft is purchased by the Indian Air Force and it becomes a part of its fleet, the details about the aircraft or its procurement including its technical parameters and configurations cannot be disclosed in the public domain. The Appellant has sought not only the copies of all the file noting regarding the procurement of such aircrafts but also the copies of the quotations furnished by the manufacturers/suppliers. All these documents would contain extensive details about the aircrafts, information which cannot be disclosed without endangering the safety of both the aircrafts and their occupants. Therefore, we are in agreement with the CPIO that the details sought by the Appellant cannot be disclosed.
4. However, there are some factual details which can always be disclosed. These relate to the cost of the aircraft(s), the date of procurement and the make of the aircraft(s) and the name(s) manufacturer/supplier. We direct the CPIO of the Indian Air Force to provide this information to the Appellant within 10 working days of receiving this order in respect of the aircraft(s) procured by it for use by the high dignitaries of the government immediately before the date of the RTI application.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Mr. Aseem Takyar v. Prime Minister's Office, Ministry of Civil Aviation, Department of Defence in File No. CIC/SM/C/2012/001025