UPA withheld AgustaWestland info under RTI

Clauses relating to national security cited even after deal was cancelled, says activist

GN Bureau | April 28, 2016


#Subhash Chandra Agrawal   #RTI   #defence   #corruption   #Congress   #UPA   #AgustaWestland   #Subramanian Swamy   #Sonia Gandhi  


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.

Comments

 

Other News

Ram Nath Kovind to be India’s next president

 India’s 14th president is going to be former Bihar governor Ram Nath Kovind, a dalit. He triumphed over former Lok Sabha speaker Meira Kumar in the vote count that took place on Thursday.   Kovind succeeds Pranab Mukherjee, who demits office on July 25. He becomes the

At JNU, all that is beautiful and “solid has melted into the air”…

Dear “Professor” Vice Chancellor,    When the clamour is made all around us, and rightly so, about the condition of growing degeneration of quality education in the higher institutions of learning in our country, you have justly – for which you must be

Making words count

In 2016, 38 bills were enacted in parliament. During that year, on average, the time spent on legislative debate (without interruptions) was 23 percent in the Lok Sabha and 16 percent in the Rajya Sabha (calculated from the PRS Legislative Research data).  Time is, however, just one measure

Business goes north

Tyre manufacturer MRF (originally Madras Rubber Factory), which enjoys instant brand recall thanks to the presence of its logo on cricket superstar Virat Kohli’s bat, figures among the most prominent industries in Tamil Nadu. But the state does not figure in its future plans. Like another TN industry

Do you think the Central Water Commission needs to take on the responsibility of irrigation governance?

Do you think the Central Water Commission needs to take on the responsibility of irrigation governance?

Debating the idea of privacy

Is right to privacy a fundamental right? The Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments on the contentious issue linked to the Aadhaar debate. Here`s how the issue has been addressed by different countries, with the first reference dating to 1890.   The Supreme Court on Tuesday s





Video

Current Issue

Opinion

Facebook    Twitter    Google Plus    Linkedin    Subscribe Newsletter

Twitter