Information about the position of incarceration of Kulbhushan Jadhav was sought by a BPL citizen - Respondent: Information is on a sensitive matter, disclosure of which has security and strategic implications and is exempt u/s 8(1)(a) - CIC: Denial upheld
Information sought and background of the case:
The Appellant filed an RTI application dated 14.06.2022 seeking the following information: -
I seek information about the position of incarceration of Kulbhushan Jadhav facing charges of espionage imprisoned in Pakistan since 2018. I seek information through the RTI Act, 2005 and I am exempted from payment of fees for this purpose as I belong to BPL family and the ration card is enclosed herewith for your perusal.
The PIO /Second Secretary, High Commission of India, Islamabad, vide letter dated 06.07.2022 replied as under:-
Dissatisfied with the response received from the CPIO, the Appellant filed a First Appeal dated 08.08.2022. The FAA, High Commission of India, Islamabad vide order dated 18.08.2022 upheld the reply of the CPIO.
Aggrieved and dissatisfied, the Appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Facts emerging in Course of Hearing:
The Appellant remained absent despite being served the hearing notice in advance.
The Respondent represented by Ms. Gitanjali Brandon, CPIO/DS(Pak), MEA participated in the hearing through video conference. She submitted that an adequate reply qua the instant RTI Application has been furnished to the Appellant vide letter dated 06.07.2022.
A written submission has been received from Ms. Preeti, Attache & CPIO, HCI, Islamabad, vide letter dated 15.06.2023 and copy of the same has also been sent to the Appellant, wherein the Commission has been apprised as under:
Reference Notice for hearing No. CIC/HCIPK/A/2022/145692 dated 08.06.2023 in respect of Mr. Arkatla Bunganna RTIs No MEAIS/R/T/22/00004 dated 05.07.2022. The CPIO had responded on 06.07.2022. The RTI applicant appealed on 08.08.2022 and the Appellate Authority had responded on 18.08.2022, copy of which are enclosed for ready reference.
2. As you can see, both the CPIO and the Appellate Authority from High Commission of India in Islamabad had responded in time to the applicant, Mr. Bunganna. The applicant had sought information on a sensitive matter, disclosure of which has security and strategic implications. Hence, the information sought is exempt under section 8(1)(a) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, 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; of the RTI Act, 2005 and which was duly conveyed to the applicant.
3. In view of the above, it is kindly requested that the appeal made by the applicant may be set aside. It is requested that CPIO, High Commission of India be allowed to attend the hearing on 26.06.2023 virtually.
Perusal of the submission sent by the Respondent reveals that the PIO has furnished appropriate reply, applying the relevant provision of law to deny such sort of information. The Appellant has chosen not to contest the case.
Considering the fact that there is no legal infirmity in the reply sent by the Respondent, no cause of action subsists in this case under the RTI Act for further adjudication.
The appeal is disposed off accordingly.
Y. K. Sinha
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Shri Arkatla Bunganna v. High Commission of India, Islamabad, Pakistan Through MEA, CIC/HCIPK/A/2022/145692; Date of Decision: 28.06.2023