Information related to ceasefire violations along the LoC and infiltrations from Pakistan in Jammu and Kashmir cannot be disclosed as it may adversely affect India's relation with other countries, the Central Information Commission has held.
The transparency panel agreed with the contention of Central Public Information Officer of the army and held that disclosure of the information may also have adverse effect on the strategic and security interests of the country.
The Commission, however, allowed the RTI applicant to peruse the documents pertaining to the information from the army but directed the respondent not to provide copy of them.
Exercising his right to information, the applicant had in 2011 asked the army to provide details of infiltrations or infiltration attempts from the Indo-Pakistan border and the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir.
The Army CPIO, who was also asked to give details of ceasefire violations and casualty of security force personnel, had declined to share the information citing an exemption clause of the transparency law.
Aggrieved over the response from the CPIO and First Appellate Authority, the applicant had approached the Commission.
In its first hearing held last August, the Commission asked the Army CPIO to collect and collate information for two calender years (i.e. 2009-10 and 2010-11) so that its
disclosure, partial or full, could be decided.
"I do not agree with the view taken by the CPIO and Appellate Authority. Some part of requested information keeps on appearing in the mass media from time to time and, therefore, it cannot be said that its disclosure would be prejudicial to the security of India... "It is ordered that an attempt may be made to collect and collate information for two calender years i.e. 2009-10 and 2010-11 only relating to the Indian Army...He will produce the information before the Commission to determine whether it is to be disclosed fully or partially," Information Commissioner M L Sharma has held in an order dated August 17 last year.
The matter was again heard on November 12 in which the Army CPIO put up before the Commission information for the period 2009, 2010 and 2011 regarding infiltration in Jammu and Kashmir, ceasefire violations along the LoC and casualties/
injuries suffered by armed forces personnel etc.
The CPIO submitted that the information "is sensitive in nature and cannot be disclosed as it may adversely affect India's relations with the foreign countries, besides having adverse effect on the strategic and security interests of India".
The Information Commissioner in the CIC broadly agreed with the CPIO's submission and said that he was "not inclined to disclose the information".
"However, if appellant is keen to peruse the information, he is at liberty to make a request to Col Binod Kumar (CPIO), who, on receipt of such a request, would permit the appellant to peruse the information but would not provide a copy...," Sharma held in his order.