The Prime Minister’s Office has told the Central Information Commission (CIC) that it cannot declassify files relating to India’s one of the foremost nationalist leader and prominent freedom fighter Subhash Chandra Bose. The high office has cited that the disclosure will “adversely affect” the relations with foreign countries.
During the hearing before the CIC on Wednesday, the PMO admitted that it has files related to Bose but did not give any specifics and submitted that they cannot be declassified keeping in mind the relations with foreign countries.
The Prime Minister’s Office cited section 8(1)(a) which allows the government to withhold information, disclosure of which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.
The matter came before the CIC after the RTI activist Subhash Agrawal sought for the declassification of documents pertaining to Bose. Pitching a strong defence of his case, Subhash Agrawal claimed that the foreign relations cannot be affected as Bose allegedly went missing 70 years ago. He further made a strong plea before the Commission citing section 8(2) of the RTI Act which allows exempted records to be disclosed if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests.
After the conclusion of hearing, Chief Information Commissioner Vijai Sharma reserved his order in the matter. Petitioner Subhash Agrawal, though urged the CIC to seek written submission by the PMO on why they are seeking the rejection of declassification plea, but that was turned down by the CIC Vijai Sharma.
(With inputs from the PTI)