Delhi HC stays CIC order directing Air Force to disclose PM’s travel details

The IAF had appealed against the CIC order directing the disclosure of Special Flight Returns-II and other details of the PM’s foreign trips


The Delhi High Court, on December 11 has stayed the Central Information Commission’s (CIC), order directing the Indian Air Force (IAF) to disclose information about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and former Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh’s entourage on foreign trips.

According to LiveLaw, Justice Navin Chawla granted interim stay to the Indian Air Force on its plea against an order dated July 8, 2020 directing the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), Directorate of Personal Services, Air Headquarters, Indian Air Force, to provide details of the Prime Minister’s Special Flight Returns-II to an RTI applicant Commodore Lokesh K Batra (Retd.)

Justice Chawla observed that under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, the CPIO could not provide details of anything more than the number of passengers accompanying the Prime Minister on the flight. However, this too was disputed by the CPIO.

The Single Bench after hearing the IAF counsel Rahul Sharma, issued a notice to Retd. Commodore Batra, and asked him to file a reply within four weeks. “There shall be a stay on the impugned order till further orders,” said the court, as reported by the Indian Express.


On July 8, 2020 the CIC had directed the Indian Air Force to provide certified copies of available and relevant Special Flight Returns-ll to RTI applicant Commodore (retd) Lokesh K Batra. He had sought certified copies of SRF-I and SRF-II with regard to each foreign visit of the former and the present Prime Minister from April 1, 2013 onwards.

On hearing his plea, the CIC had directed the CPIO to provide the certified copies of available and relevant SFR II as sought in the RTI Application “after severing the name and other relevant identifying particulars of the security/SPG personnel figuring therein.”

It further directed that the said information will be provided free of cost to Mr. Batra within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order and a compliance report to this effect be duly sent to the commission by the CPIO.

While putting a stay on the operation of the CIC order, Justice Chawla further observed that CIC could have been “very clear” about which information could have been disclosed, after Mr. Batra’s counsel argued that there are private persons and other people not connected to the security apparatus who accompany the Prime Minister on these trips.

The Indian Air Force, in its plea before the High Court against the CIC order, had submitted that “The information so sought includes details related to the entire entourage, names of Special Protection Group (SPG) personnel accompanying the Hon’ble Prime Minister of India on foreign tours for his personal safety, and the same, if disclosed, can potentially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific or economic interests of the State.”

The matter is expected to be heard after 4 weeks.


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