Revoking its direction to make public details of a snooping software developed for Research and Analysis Wing by C-DAC, the Central Information Commission has allowed withholding of information as it was a joint project with RAW which has exemption under the RTI Act.
Acting on an appeal of former RAW official Brigadier (Retd) Ujjal Dasgupta, an accused in the National Security Council Secretariat spying case, the transparency panel had earlier asked the Pune-based Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC) to disclose details sought by him about the software 'Anveshak'.
The RAW challenged the decision in the Delhi High Court which referred the matter back to the CIC saying the panel has "erred" in overlooking sections of the RTI Act which exempted security organisations like RAW from the ambit of RTI law and those dealing with third party information.
It also directed the CIC to hear RAW, for which C-DAC was developing the software, before passing any direction on the disclosure of information about the software.
Following the direction of the High Court, the CIC referred the matter to a full-bench and called RAW to present their objections regarding the disclosure of information sought by Dasgupta.
The snooping agency said that software was developed by C-DAC on their behalf and pertained to data base management system used for storage and retrieval of sensitive data collected by the agency on such issues and which are connected with the security and defence of the country.
"It is pertinent at this stage to highlight the fact that the 'confidentiality clause' as contracted in the contract between C-DAC and RAW was never brought to the notice of the Commission which led to the erstwhile decision directing C-DAC to furnish the information," the Commission said.