The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the defence ministry to disclose some records related to AgustaWestland helicopters deal including the opinion of the attorney general on returning procured choppers and records related to court proceedings in Italy.
The Commission has also sought records related to the termination of the deal to be presented before it in an in camera proceedings for its perusal before deciding whether they can be disclosed under the RTI Act or they attract its exemption clauses.
“Commission will examine application of Section 8(1)(a) and (h) in claiming exemption from disclosure of files and documents by the CPIO. It will also take a decision, if required on applying severability clause under Section 10 of RTI Act in respect of any portion of the document/files,” information commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said.
Hearing the plea of activist Subhash Agrawal, Sinha ordered defence ministry to provide details of Bank Guarantee amount received back by India.
“MoD is directed to provide copy of attorney general’s opinion on sending back already procured helicopters...provide details of court cases in Italian courts in which India is a party,” he said.
Examining the application point by point, Sinha ordered the ministry provide names of Italian advocates/Italian law firms hired to represent India in Italian courts.
Responding to RTI application of Agrawal, who had sought information on various points of the controversial deal for 12 VVIP helicopters from AgustaWestland in which allegations of corruption have surfaced, defence ministry has cited ongoing CBI investigation to deny the information.
“CPIO stated that the CBI investigation in connection with the alleged scam relating to VVIP/VIP Helicopter deal is still continuing. CBI has time and again advised MoD that disclosure of any information related to this case will impede the process of investigation and disclosure of the same is exempt under section 8(1)(h),” Sinha noted.
The CPIO further said the exemption under section 8(1)(h) of RTI is also applicable to the case because arbitration proceedings are on to recover the already paid amount to the supplier, he pointed out.