Info on casualties involving Army in J&K adverse for ops, says CIC
The Central Information Commission (CIC) last week rejected a plea under the Right To Information (RTI) Act seeking details of the Centre’s denial of permission to prosecute army personnel involved in 47 cases of alleged death/injuries caused during operations between 2001 and 2016. It may “compound the situation of unrest and instigate festering emotions in the erstwhile Jammu & Kashmir state, in addition to having international ramifications”, it said while rejecting the plea.
CIC said “disclosure of the operational details will adversely impact security and strategic preparedness of the armed forces”. HT has seen a copy of the order.
Of the 50 requests from the then state government for prosecuting the personnel, 47 were denied, according to the Centre’s response to a question tabled in Rajya Sabha in 2018.
Venkatesh Nayak, programme head at the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (an NGO) and a RTI activist, who sought the info in February 2018, said he took the matter to CIC after defence ministry and army refused details.
CIC has directed the ministry to provide an affidavit to Nayak saying there are “no official records containing details of procedure or norms, criteria and standard that is to be followed by the Ministry while deciding the evidence submitted by the government of J&K government in prosecution sanction cases”.
It asked the ministry to submit in writing it is the competent authority to sanction or deny permission to prosecute accused army personnel.
CIC said the request for details have to be weighed on the scale of relativity of larger good between alleged victims and that of the state. Lawyer Navdeep Singh, a former reservist, said the decision on whether to prosecute or not will vary. “So, it is not surprising that there is no singular procedure,” he said.