PM’s entourage can’t be brought into public domain: IAF challenges CIC order
Security apparatus and the entourage of the Prime Minister of India cannot be brought into the public domain for security reason, said the Indian Air Force (IAF) challenging a Central Information Commission (CIC) order in the Delhi High Court for its disclosure under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
The plea, moved by the IAF through its Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), sought to quash an order dated July 8, 2020, passed by CIC whereby it had directed the CPIO to provide details of relevant Special Flight Returns-ll to Commodore (retd) Lokesh K Batra, who had sought the details via an RTI applicant, within 15 days.
The IAF said that the CIC has failed to consider that the information sought by the RTI applicant can’t be disclosed as it is extremely sensitive in nature and since it relates to part-II of the Special Flight Returns [SFR] and official records of functioning and working of the security apparatus of the Prime Minister of India.
“The information so sought includes details related to the entire entourage, names of Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel accompanying the Prime Minister on foreign tours for his personal safety, and the same, if disclosed, can potentially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State,” the plea said.
It said the CIC has made a grave error in law as well as on facts as it ignored that the details of SPG have been explicitly exempted from the purview of the RTI Act. Hence, the impugned order is bad in law as well as on facts and deserves to be quashed, it added.
“The CIC failed to consider that the SPG was raised in 1985 with the intention to provide proximate security cover to the Prime Minister, former Prime Ministers and their immediate family members. It was only after the assassination of former Prime Minister Late Indira Gandhi by her own bodyguards in 1984, the need for a specialised and dedicated force arose,” the plea said.
“The SPG has strict protocols concerning the security of the Prime Minister and even the details regarding the name and number of SPG personnel engaged in the personal security of the Prime Minister of India are not brought into the public domain as unfortunately there have been assassinations of two previous Prime Ministers,” it added.