Information in question originated from the Air India - it relates to the functioning of NTRO – CIC: irrespective of who is holding the information pertaining to NTRO, it has a bearing on security issues of the nation - disclosure exempt u/s 8(1)(a)
The present appeal filed by Shri G.A. Rao against Air India was taken up for hearing on 01.07.2013 via videoconferencing (VC). The Respondents were present through Shri Hanuman Prasad, CPIO at NIC VC facility at Hyderabad. The Appellant, however, chose not to be present.
Facts of the case:
2. The Appellant filed his RTI application dated 01.03.2012 with the CPIO, Air India, Hyderabad seeking information against 20 points [a to t), including number of hangars at Begumpet Airport under the operation of Air India Ltd.; number of hangars owned by Air India Ltd. out of said hangars; number of hangars leased by Airport Authority of India to Air India Ltd, Hyderabad out of said hangars; specify the Hangar number, in which an Outside Agency viz., NTRO has commenced its operations at Begumpet Airport; details of power consumption and so on.
3. The CPIO through his letter dated 24.03.2012 provided point wise reply to the Appellant. As for points (a), (b), (c), (k) & (p), the CPIO informed the Appellant that the matter has been taken up with the concerned department/Section and they will revert back to him on receipt of the information/inputs from the concerned department/sections. As for the remaining points, the CPIO stated that the matter was taken up with the NTRO, which had informed that NTRO is an organization which is placed in IInd schedule of the RTI Act in terms of the provisions of section 24 of the RTI Act and is thus exempted for providing any such information.
4. The Appellant, being dissatisfied with the reply of the CPIO, filed his first appeal before the Appellate Authority on 09.04.2012 which the Appellate Authority decided vide his order dated 07.05.2012 wherein, he noted that points (a), (b), (c), (k), (p) & (q) have been replied to by the CPIO vide his letter dated 03.05.2012. As for the remaining points i.e. (d), (e), (f), (g), (h), (i), (j), (l), (m), (n), (o), (r), (s) and (t) which pertained to NTRO, the Appellate Authority reiterated the reply given by the NTRO that NTRO is an organization which is placed in IInd schedule of the RTI Act in terms of the provisions of section 24 of the RTI Act and is thus exempted for providing any such information.
5. The Appellant thereafter filed the present appeal before the Commission.
6. In his present appeal, the Appellant has stated that
“information sought in my application dated 01.03.2012 filed under RTI Act, 2005 does not relate to the operations of NTRO or its setup or activities carried out in the Hangars at Begumpet, which I am aware in confidential in nature and I do not intend to seek the same. The information was sought from Air India Limited regarding approvals obtained by AIL from the Competent Authority and AAI etc., procedure followed by AIL before renting out the hangar to NTRO and additional expenditure incurred by Air India Limited, after renting out the hangar to NTRO.”
7. During the hearing, the Respondents inform the Commission that they by their letter dated 05.03.2012 had requested the NTRO to provide the information with regard to the points which pertained to them (para 4). However, they (NTRO) through their letter dated 07.03.2012 informed them that “ NTRO is an organization which is placed in the second schedule of the RTI Act in terms of the provisions of section 24 of the RTI Act and is thus exempted for providing any such information to any information seeker.” They also point out that by mistake they had mentioned that point (k) of the Appellant’s RTI application has been replied to while this point also pertained to NTRO, which is an exempt organization as given in second schedule read with section 24 of the RTI Act.
8. On consideration of the submissions of the parties and on perusal of records the Commission is of the view that though the information in question here (as per the Appellant’s submission made in present appeal) originates from the Air India, it indeed relates to the functioning of NTRO which is a ‘technical intelligence gathering agency’. Thus any information, irrespective of the fact as to who is holding it, which pertains to the NTRO, directly or indirectly, has a bearing on security issues of the nation. Disclosure of such information attracts exemption u/s 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 RTI Act. Mere fact that the Appellant has chosen to file his RTI application before the present Respondents instead of NTRO does not make him entitled to receive the information which admittedly pertains to an exempt organisation listed in second schedule of the RTI Act.
9. In view of the above the present appeal cannot be allowed and is rejected.
Citation: Shri G.A. Rao v. Air India in Case No. CIC/SS/A/2012/002472