The Central government has refused to reveal information on the expenditure it incurred during the visit of US President Barack Obama earlier this year, citing it as a sensitive issue and would affect the bilateral relations of the countries.
In the reply to the right to information (RTI) appeal made by activist Anil Galgali, the Union ministry of external affairs (MEA) has said the Indian government hosts various foreign delegations every year. The purpose of every visit is different and therefore the cost incurred on these visits is a highly-sensitive issue. This disclosure can affect the bilateral relations between the countries.
Deputy chief of protocol, MEA, Rohit Rathishi said the above information is denied under section 8 of the RTI, which prohibits disclosure of the information that would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state, relations with foreign state or lead to incitement of an offence.
“Denying the disclosure of information under the above section is a frivolous excuse. How can the information on the expenses incurred during the visit of a foreign delegation affect bilateral ties between nations?” said Shailesh Gandhi, former central information commissioner (CIC). He said the applicant should appeal against the order.
Galgali said the information is significant as public money was spent during the visit. “The MEA may choose not to disclose the places visited by the US President during his 3-day tour of India. But the ministry should have at least disclosed how much public money was spent during the visit,” he said.