The Central Information Commission, the top most authority for Right to Information Act, will address this question next month and decide if expenditure on Prime Minister’s visits, process of clearing bills and chartering flights should be put in the public domain.
CIC has summoned the files from the Prime Minister’s Office to see if these contain any security-related information. Armed forces veteran Lokesh Batra has been seeking details of PM’s foreign visits, details of expenses on travel, procedure involved in chartering flights, flight returns etc.
Batra had filed an application under RTI Act in August 2015. While providing details of billsfor Air India flights, the PMO and external affairs minister took refuge in exemption clauses of Section 8 of RTI Act.
PMO invoked Section * (1) (a) saying the disclosure of information would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India and security interests of the state.
The only information Batra received was the aircraft for travel of PM is requisitioned from Air India or Indian Air Force keeping in consideration various logistical and security issues. After the completion of the visit, the bills received are forwarded to PMO for settlement.
Batra has approached CIC to intervene and has argued that travel bills and the process of settlement of bills do not contain security details. He has said the case involves substantive public interest as bailout amount being given to Air India is the taxpayers’ money.
Chief Information Commissioner RK Mathur ruled on October 25, that the commission observed that without perusal of the file it cannot be decided whether the sought for information contains security related information.”