The Delhi High Court on Friday stayed a Central Information Commission direction to the Indian Air Force to provide information of every foreign visit undertaken by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh, Bar and Bench reported.
The Indian Air Force had challenged a July 8 order of the commission, which is the highest appellate authority under the Right to Information Act. The petition argued that the information sought to be disclosed by RTI activist Commodore (retired) Lokesh K Batra was “extremely sensitive in nature” as it is related to details of the prime minister’s security apparatus.
A single-judge bench of Justice Navin Chawla stayed the order, saying that information about the details of ministry or department officials who accompanied the prime ministers on a trip cannot be disclosed, but there was no harm in providing details of the number of passengers on flights, according to PTI.
The judge also issued a notice to Batra and sought his stand on the IAF’s petition. During the hearing, advocate Rahul Sharma, representing the Centre, specifically opposed the disclosure of names and designation of persons and security personnel accompanying the prime minister, saying that the information had “nothing good” for the RTI applicant.
“The information so sought includes details related to the entire entourage, names of Special Protection Group personnel accompanying the prime minister on foreign tours for his personal safety, and the same, if disclosed, can potentially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state,” the IAF petition read.
The judge observed that the Central Information Commission ought to have been more clear as to what information can be provided and what is exempted under the RTI Act.
The court will hear the matter next on April 12, 2021.