The Delhi Excessive Court docket Friday stayed the Central Info Fee (CIC) order directing the Indian Air Power (IAF) to offer info concerning Particular Flight Returns (SRF)-II, which incorporates particulars of the Prime Minister’s entourage on his overseas journeys. Justice Navin Chawla stated the knowledge sought by the RTI applicant with regard to particulars of the ministry or division officers who accompanied the PM on a visit can’t be disclosed, however there was no hurt in offering particulars of the variety of passengers on flights.
The courtroom additionally issued a discover to the RTI applicant Commodore (retd) Lokesh Ok Batra and sought his stand on the IAF’s attraction towards the CIC’s July 8 route.
The courtroom listed the matter for additional listening to on April 12, 2021, and stayed the operation of the CIC route until then.
It noticed that the CIC should have been extra clear as to what info will be supplied and what’s exempted underneath the Proper to Info (RTI) Act.
IAF, represented by central authorities senior panel counsel Rahul Sharma and advocate C Ok Bhatt, contended there was a “dichotomy” within the CIC order because it stated the knowledge sought was exempted underneath the RTI, however then directed that info sought be supplied after severing the delicate particulars which included names and ranks of the safety officers accompanying the PM.
CIC had directed IAF to offer licensed copies of accessible and related SRF-I and ll to RTI applicant Batra.
Batra had sought licensed copies of SRF-I and SRF-II with regard to every overseas go to of former PM Manmohan Singh as additionally Prime Minister Narendera Modi from April 2013 onwards.
IAF advised the courtroom that it has supplied SRF-I info which incorporates particulars of variety of crew and others on the PM’s flight, however particulars of SRF-II can’t be supplied because it incorporates names, ranks and organisation of safety and different officers on the flight.
It stated even offering the variety of passengers on the flight was detrimental to safety of the PM as it will point out how many individuals accompanied him on a specific journey and anti-state parts can use it to strategise or plan some motion.
The courtroom, nevertheless, stated no hurt will be brought on to the safety of the state if solely the variety of passengers was supplied as sure personal people, like journalists, would have additionally accompanied the PM.
It made it clear that info concerning names or designation of ministry or safety officers on the flight can’t be supplied.
It additionally stated that CIC had left it to IAF to determine what info from SRF-II will be supplied.
The IAF, in its plea, has claimed that the “info so sought consists of particulars associated to the whole entourage, names of Particular Safety Group (SPG) personnel accompanying the Prime Minister of India on overseas excursions for his private security, and the identical, if disclosed, can probably have an effect on the sovereignty and integrity of India, the safety, strategic, scientific or financial pursuits of the State”.
It has claimed that the CIC has “failed to understand and contemplate that the knowledge sought by the respondent (Batra) from the petitioner (Air Power) can’t be disclosed and the applying of the respondent for in search of the identical ought to not have been allowed as the knowledge sought is extraordinarily delicate in nature…”
It has contended that the SRF-II copies sought relate to “official information of functioning and dealing of the safety equipment of the Prime Minister of India which can’t be introduced in public area for security and safety causes”.