The Central Information Commission (CIC) has rejected a plea seeking disclosure of records related to a controversial covert unit set by the then army chief V K Singh, Technical Service Division, saying it will “prejudicially affect security” of the country.
“The commission strongly believes that if information of this nature is put in public domain, it will invite unnecessary speculation and will have substantive bearing on national security and will have international implications,” information commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said.
He said, “We have to bear in mind that intelligence gathering mechanism is, by its nature, very sensitive and impinges on the security of the country.”
The information commissioner carried out an in-camera hearing to peruse the file containing report of Lt Gen Vinod Bhatia who was assigned to enquire into the matter of Technical Support Division (TSD) of the army.
“Commission observes after perusal of documents/files that invoking Section 10 of the RTI Act is not possible in this case because various issues finding mention in the reports/files shown to the Commission are interlinked and any disclosure would compromise on the strategic security of the country,” Sinha said.
The case relates to the plea filed by Aparna Datta Bakshi, wife of Colonel Munishwar Nath “Hunny” Bakshi who had reportedly headed the unit, to get details of TSD and reports of Bhatia who had probed into the operations.
He said the report of the board of officers has brought out various objectives of TSD, details of its methodology, tradecraft as well as operational expenditure of the Secret Service fund.
“Commission invokes the provisions of Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act and disallows disclosure of the above reports,” Sinha said.
He said disclosure of information pertaining to mandate of TSD including its tasking/functioning and quantum/handling/allocation of MI/GS funds would prejudicially affect the security of the country and are exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act.