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Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Art 370: CIC rejects disclosure plea, cites security, strategic interests

On an appeal filed by The Indian Express, Chief Information Commissioner Y K Sinha said: “The Commission concurs with the stand of the CPIO [Central Public Information Officer] that the information is exempted.”

Written by Shyamlal Yadav | New Delhi |
Updated: August 14, 2021 7:44:38 am
Central Information Commission, CIC Building, in New Delhi.

CENTRAL INFORMATION Commission on Friday rejected a plea for disclosure of the file regarding abrogation of Article 370 of the Constitution, citing a provision in Right to Information Act that exempts information that affects the country’s security and strategic interests among others.

On an appeal filed by The Indian Express, Chief Information Commissioner Y K Sinha said: “The Commission concurs with the stand of the CPIO [Central Public Information Officer] that the information is exempted.”

He cited Section 8(1) (a) of the RTI Act which exempts “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”.

The Jammu and Kashmir Reorganisation Bill, 2019 was passed in Rajya Sabha on August 5, 2019 and in Lok Sabha a day later. The amendment came into effect on October 31, 2019.

In its application dated November 21, 2019, The Indian Express had requested from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) for the “copy of all papers along with file notings, list of ministers who attended Cabinet meeting and all other attachments and enclosures from the file regarding decision taken in the Cabinet meeting” on the issue. It had also sought copy of all correspondences between Government of India and Government of Jammu and Kashmir in this connection since August 5, 2019.

The MHA denied the information, claiming it was exempted.

Same stand was taken by the Cabinet Secretariat on another RTI plea filed before it during same period. Despite the fact that Section 8(1)(i), which exempts Cabinet papers from RTI, says that information about Cabinet decisions can “be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over”.

The Indian Express appealed before the CIC, seeking the information since government’s decision has been fully implemented and matter is over.

But in his order, which came a day after the hearing, Sinha said: “Commission is not inclined to give any direction in this regard as judgment regarding security or strategic interest of the state should be best left to the wisdom of the government.”

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