The armed forces are pushing for a total ban on RTI lenses

The armed forces renewed their call for a blanket exception to the Right to Information Act during a high-level meeting chaired by the Cabinet Secretary on April 28. However, ministries involved raised concerns that pension and worker grievances could be affected. The federal government still has to make a final statement.

The meeting with the Committee of Secretaries took place days before Army Chief MS Naravane left office, where the senior leadership took the case to the Cabinet Secretary. The Department of Defense broadly supported the proposal. The armed forces are said to have cited several instances of misuse of RTI applications to collect information. However, other ministries involved could not be sufficiently convinced with the argument.

The Justice Department pointed out that the armed forces as a whole would not be referred to as “intelligence agencies” and therefore would not qualify for such an exemption. Legislative change was proposed with due parliamentary scrutiny, rather than guiding each exception through a notification to the executive to ensure a balanced view of the issue. The Department of Personnel & Training is said to have indicated that the armed forces have a large number of personnel and their grievances have been addressed through RTI. Over 40,000 complaints are filed each year on average by military personnel in government systems, and any blanket RTI exemption would hamper desirable transparency, it said.

The Central Information Commission has also learned that it does not support the request. The Armed Forces are said to have cited a number of cases where RTI applications were simultaneously submitted to different military bases/agencies and ended up being interpreted as attempts to obtain information about the facility.

ET was the first to report on July 9, 2021 that the Ministry of Military Affairs, headed by Chief of Defense Staff Bipin Rawat, has proposed a proposal to include the armed forces in the second schedule of the RTI Act of 2005 in terms of “national security and general national affairs.” Interest”. The second appendix lists 26 “intelligence and security organizations that are kept out of the purview of the RTI Act for security reasons. These include the Intelligence Bureau, RAW, Directorate of Revenue Intelligence, Directorate of Enforcement, Narcotics Control Bureau, alongside BSF, CRPF, ITBP, National Security Guards, Special Protection Group, National Security Council Secretariat, NTRO and CBI.

The Center has the authority to change the second schedule from time to time, thereby adding, removing or replacing organizations therein. A similar provision is provided for in Section 24 (4) TKG for the state legislators. However, any such notification for exempting organizations must be submitted to Parliament for consideration. CBI’s inclusion in 2011 was hotly debated and challenged in court. The question of the exemption of armed forces has been raised since the FTI Act came into force.

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