Citing secrecy of operations, defence ministry has refused a request by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, chaired by BJP MP, Major General BC Khanduri (retd) for a briefing on last week’s “surgical strikes” by the army in Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK). The briefing was scheduled for a meeting of the committee on October 6, but the members were informed earlier this week that the meeting had been postponed to October 14, with an amended agenda.
Defence ministry sources confirmed that it had refused to brief the parliamentary committee as details of surgical strikes “are secret in nature and cannot be divulged”.
Major General Khanduri, however, told The Indian Express that “the committee wanted to know more about these operations and we had made the request to the defence ministry. DGMO has already briefed the country and leaders from all political parties, and we will also be briefed.”
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MR Madhavan, President of PRS Legislative research said that “the Lok Sabha Rules of Procedure lists certain topics that cannot be taken up for discussions or questions. While there is no explicit mention of national security, the list includes seeking of ‘disclosure of information that are in their nature secret…of which there is a constitutional, statutory or conventional obligation not to disclose information’. My guess is that military maneouvres could fall into this category.”
Major General Khanduri confirmed that the meeting for October 6 was postponed to October 14, as it had been called on short notice. However, The Indian Express has learnt that while the agenda for the October 6 meeting, circulated to its members had only “briefing by representatives of Ministry of Defence on surgical strikes across the Line of Control”, the agenda for the October 14 had added another item on “Mountain Strike Corps – shortage of arms and ammunition in the army”.
The meetings of the committee are “in camera” and its deliberations do not mention any member by name. Sources said that the draft reports of the committee are sent by the Chairman to the defence ministry before release to prevent any secret information from being made public.
The standing committee on defence consists of 31 members, 21 from the Lok Sabha and 10 from the Rajya Sabha. It has so far produced 22 reports on various subjects, including defence budget, DRDO, Border Roads Organisation and Ordnance Factories.