New Delhi, March 26: National carrier Air India said records pertaining to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi chartered flights for visits abroad cannot be disclosed under the RTI Act because of security concerns as per instructions from the PMO.
Air India came with this statement in a response to an application filed by an activist under the transparency law, PTI reported.
In RTI application dated February 2, 2018, Commodore (Retd.) Lokesh Batra had asked the national carrier about the dates of invoices raised for chartered flights provided by it for overseas visits of the prime minister since November 2016, and the dates of forwarding each of these bills to the civil aviation ministry and the external affairs ministry.
According to Batra, he got a response from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) who said he cannot reveal the information sought by him, and also sent him an e-mail communication from the PMO to National Carrier on the issue.
In that email, sent to an Air India official on December 26, 2016, the Prime Minister Office had asserted, “Records pertaining to PM’s flight have certain information which may have security implications and are, hence, exempted from disclosure under clause (g) of Section 8(1) of the RTI Act, 2005.”
“As such, the Air India is advised not to disclose information relating to PM’s flight to such RTI queries,” it added
However, it was not clear what had prompted the PMO’s email in 2016.
Following the response of Air India, citing the PMO’s instructions, Batra wrote to the national carrier stating that there is no provision in the Act to refuse information without giving reasons as per section 7(1) of the Act or without quoting the CIC or court orders for denial of Information.
Later, in response to this, Air India said that “We never deny any information which is available as per our records of accounts dept. As per provision in the Act we are not supposed to supply any copy of our document or as per section 7(1) of the Act, which is informed by PMO”.
Batra has also written to the Prime Minister office terming the instruction to Air India a “serious lapse”.