Seeking information related to Dalai Lama and Tibetan refugees through RTI
The appellant filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in which he referred to some news report, his own submissions relating to the Tibetan refugees in India and raised some queries. The Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that some of the queries relating to the activities of the Tibetan refugees, fell in the domain of the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) while those relating to His Holiness Dalai Lama could not be disclosed being sensitive in nature and falling under the exemption provisions 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 RTI Act.
During the hearing before the Central Information Commission (CIC), the respondent submitted that the issues relating to the Tibetans in India and especially to His Holiness Dalai Lama were not only sensitive but had a lot of implications for national security and India's relationships with foreign countries and the disclosure of this information is not in national interest.
View of CIC
The Commission held that the information relating to the Tibetan refugees in general and to His Holiness Dalai Lama in particular is sensitive from the point of view of both national security and India's relationship with other countries. The Commission, however, noted that some of the information sought is also purely factual in nature such as the total number of Tibetan refugees in India or grant of Indian citizenship to the children of Tibetan refugees born in India. The CIC ruled that if this information is held in the MEA, it should be provided and if it is not held in the MEA, it might be held in the MHA. The CIC directed the PIO to revisit the RTI application and provide whatever material information is available on those queries which are strictly factual in nature and if such information is not held by them then he should transfer the application to the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA).
Citation: Mr. Subhash Chandra Agrawal v. Ministry of External Affairs in File No. CIC/SM/A/2012/001782
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2013/CIC/1388
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission