Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar/New Delhi, April 2:
The Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) has declined to answer an RTI query from an Odisha student seeking information on the list of appointments with Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the grounds that it would be detrimental to the country’s security and integrity.
The chief public information officer (CPIO) in the PMO in response to the RTI query by Rohit Kumar – a third-year student of Kalinga Institute of Industrial Technology (KiiT) in Odisha capital – cited concerns for the sovereignty, integrity, security and strategic interests of the country to hold back the information sought by him.
“The Prime Minister meets people both formally and informally in connection with the functioning of the government and other issues and revealing this information may have “prejudicial effect on the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state and relations with foreign states, as well as confidential third party information,” the PMO said in its reply.
Declining the information, it said, “…there may be instances of such meeting being exempt from disclosure of information under Sections 8 (1) and 11 of the Right to Information Act.”
“Sometimes, persons meeting even request the very fact of the meeting having taken place be kept secret,” it said in response to Rohit Kumar’s query seeking details of individuals whose request for appointment was granted and who had met the Prime Minister and how many of those were from a business background.
A disappointed Rohit Kumar said: “It is ridiculous. I cannot understand how the sovereignty, security, unity and integrity of the country are threatened by the disclosure of information about the people who had met or meet the Prime Minister.”
He told in an email communication that he would file an appeal challenging the refusal of information.
“This is indeed an unfortunate era going on for all activists. All rights-based laws are being questioned like MGNREGA, RTI Act, and Land Acquisition Act etc.”
“The PMO has become the biggest rejecter of RTI applications. So, this type of blatant opaqueness in the governance process is a huge threat to the democratic structure of the nation,” he said.
He also noted that it was not just the PMO, which was declining requests for information sought under the RTI. Almost all the departments under the present government were likewise stonewalling information, he added.
(With inputs from IANS)