Clauses relating to national security cited even after deal was cancelled, says activist
GN Bureau | April 28, 2016
Amidst uproar in parliament over corruption in the AgustaWestland chopper deal and BJP MP Subramanian Swamy’s attack on Congress chief Sonia Gandhi, another twist in the tale has emerged. In 2014 when prominent RTI activist Subhash Chandra Agrawal filed a query seeking information on the controversial deal, his plea was rejected citing national security.
Agrawal had filed the RTI petition on March 21, 2014 (when UPA was still in power) to the defence ministry seeking details of the sudden termination of the deal with the Italian firm AgustaWestland for supply of 12 helicopters to India. Irregularities came to light in February 2013 when the firm’s CEO Guiseppe Orsi was arrested on corruption charges in Italy. The then defence minister AK Antony ordered a probe the next day, and the deal was cancelled in January 2014.
The defence ministry and the Indian air force (IAF) provided some information to the RTI filed by Agrawal but withheld critical information citing several exemption clauses of the Act, including 8(1)(h), 8(1)(a) and 8(1)(d), relating to impeding process of investigation, security and strategic aspects, and commercial aspects.
Agrawal says the exemption clauses under various sub-sections of section 8(1) are not meant to provide “a hiding cover for scams, scandals and corruption”. Moreover, section 8(2) of the Act provides access to information in case public interest overweighs other concerns, which is the case here.
Agrawal had sought (1) complete information together with related file-notings/ documents/ correspondence/ agreement etc on (a) signing of the AgustaWestland deal. But the CPIO at the Air Headquarters vide response Air HQ/234011204/4/57641EIPS dated 14.02.2014 declined information on query (l-a) as exempted under section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act allegedly because of security and strategic interest of the nation.
His query (3) was about the total cost of helicopters and terms of payment, including payment already made with dates of respective payments. The CPIO rejected the plea citing exemption under section 8(1)(d), which relates to commercial aspects.
For the full RTI response see the PDF here.
When discussing digital currency, you might think of one or two well-known varieties. There is the digital representation of currency that you access with mobile and online banking services. This currency is the liability of a commercial bank. There is also cryptocurrency, a digital medium of exchange issu
The Indian President: An Insider’s Account of the Zail Singh Years By K.C. Singh HarperCollins, 312 pages, Rs.699
Bipin: The Man Behind the Uniform By Rachna Bisht Rawat Penguin, 207 pages, Rs 599 On the morning of 8 December 202
In Love, At Ease: Everyday Spirituality with Pramukh Swami By Yogi Trivedi Penguin Random House, 360 pages, Rs 499 Spirituali
Taking note of Mumbai’s rising air pollution and deteriorating air quality in the recent months, the BMC has attributed rising dust levels to different large-scale development and construction works combined with changes in the wind speed conditions. It has constituted a seven-member committee, which
Given an unusual uptick in the cases of “seasonal influenza” in the recent days, the health ministry Friday said that it was keeping a close watch on the situation in various states/UTs through the Integrated Disease Surveillance Programme (IDSP) network on real-time basis. The