After the political parties, now the Department of Atomic Energy has asked the government to keep it out of the Right to Information Act, saying the transparency law is in conflict with its international commitments which require "strict confidentiality."
However, the DAE's demand for immediate exemption from the RTI Act through an official notification is unlikely to be accepted with the law ministry raising a red flag, citing the need for an approval from the parliament on the issue.
The DAE, which functions directly under the Prime Minister and is responsible for the country's nuclear programme, requested the department for personnel and training (DoPT) to add it to the list of organisations exempted from providing information under the RTI.
"The DAE is a scientific organisation having units with foreign collaboration, which were agreed upon to be maintained with strict commercial confidence and respect for intellectual property rights," it stated in its note seeking exemption.
"Disclosures under the RTI would harm competitive position of third parties which agreed to work with us expecting their technical expertise would be protected," the DAE further argued.
The DoPT sought the law ministry's views on its proposal to "place the DAE in the second schedule of the Right To Information Act — alongside 22 other intelligence and security organisations — which gives them a blanket exemption from providing information except for requests related to human rights violations and corruption."
In its opinion, the government's legal arm advised the DoPT to wait for the Nuclear Safety Regulatory Authority Bill to be passed by the parliament. It was introduced in the Lok Sabha in September 2011 and the parliamentary standing committee has also given its report on the subject.