The Hindu – August 17, 2014 02:42 IST
Are defence organisations exempted under RTI?
The Supreme Court has decided to examine whether defence organisations such as the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) can withhold information regarding transfer of an employee, claiming that they are exempted organisations under the Right to Information Act.
A Bench of Justices Dipak Misra and V. Gopala Gowda issued a notice to the Centre and the DRDO on a petition filed by Dr. Neelam Bhalla, a scientist, who was transferred to a different unit and has sought the reasons for her transfer under the RTI Act. Having failed to get relief before the Central Information Commission and the Delhi High Court, she has moved the apex court.
The petitioner contended that only those information which directly affected and correlated to “intelligence and security” could be exempted and would not apply to information which were general in nature.
She said this petition raised an important question of law as to the interpretation of section 24 of the Right to Information Act, vis–a-vis the exclusion of exempted organisations such as the DRDO. She said citizens were deprived of records relating to their services not being related to corruption and human rights violation.
She said the “wilful disclosure of incorrect or false or misleading information relating to routine matters such as transfer not only to the petitioner but also to higher authorities, namely the Minister of Defence and the National Commission for Women, to justify their actions, was an offence under the newly enacted Whistle Blowers Protection Act.”
She said she was a victim of gender discrimination and humiliation at the hands of senior scientists and in this context, filed a complaint before the NCW inter-alia alleging nepotism and lapses in the policy of recruitment and in particular that her task for the recruitment of scientists ‘B’ was selectively taken away. She prayed for a direction to the authorities to disclose the reasons for her transfer.