CIC cites national security, says Naga peace accord framework need not be disclosed

Between 'competing public interests', CIC concluded that withholding information about the Naga Accord, for now, would help the government solve a long standing issue

PTI May 29, 2017 21:14:25 IST
CIC cites national security, says Naga peace accord framework need not be disclosed

New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has allowed the Union Home Ministry to withhold information about a 2015 peace accord between the Centre and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland.

RTI activist Venkatesh Nayak had sought details of the "Framework Agreement" between the Government of India and the Nationalist Socialist Council of Nagaland Isak-Muivah (NSCN-IM) on 3 August 2015.

R N Ravi, Chairman, Joint Intelligence Committee and Interlocutor, told the CIC the ground situation was "sensitive and fragile", and the "premature release" of the information would be "prejudicial to national security".

"The Government does not wish to lose the gains arising out of the Framework Agreement," Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur quoted Ravi as saying.

CIC cites national security says Naga peace accord framework need not be disclosed

Representational image. AFP

The transparency panel took a dig at the ministry, pointing out that it had taken the ministry months to identify that the records related to the agreement were under the Joint Intelligence Committee.

Information seeker Nayak claimed that a press release after the agreement was signed had said the "details and execution plan" would be released shortly. But even after 18 months, the information was still not out.

He said the extension of the Armed Forces Special Powers Act in the region last December buttressed the argument that that there was a gap between "official talk" and the situation on the ground. This was why it was necessary to put out "authentic information" on the agreement for the general public, Nayak said.

He said there was growing uncertainty among the neighbouring states about the contents of the framework agreement "which clearly indicates a state of confusion prevalent among the voters of the North East".

Mathur noted in his order that the complainant stressed the need to disclose the details of the agreement for "public interest".

He said Nayak asserted that what could be disclosed to a legislature or Parliament could not be denied to a citizen under the RTI Act.

"The framework agreement had been discussed by the interlocutor with the legislators of Nagaland and the same is, therefore, liable to be disclosed to the general public," Nayak told the Commission.

Mathur said while Nayak emphasised the immediate need for transparency for peace in the Northeast, Ravi said the framework agreement was in place, but the final agreement was yet to be arrived at.

"In the present case, the sovereignty and integrity of India and the security and strategic interests of the State may be prejudicially affected. The public interest served by non-disclosure has to be weighed against the immediate public interest of disclosure," Mathur said in the order.

He said an immediate disclosure would inform the public and all stakeholders about the current status and "thus help to develop an understanding and trust in the Government and promote peace in the North East region".

But between the two "competing public interests", the Commission concluded that withholding information at this stage would help the government solve a long standing issue and bring about peace and prosperity.

"This option is, therefore, more beneficial and is accepted by the Commission," it said.

Updated Date:

Find latest and upcoming tech gadgets online on Tech2 Gadgets. Get technology news, gadgets reviews & ratings. Popular gadgets including laptop, tablet and mobile specifications, features, prices, comparison.

also read

Former CBI chief Ashwani Kumar found dead at Shimla residence, says police
India

Former CBI chief Ashwani Kumar found dead at Shimla residence, says police

Kumar, 69, a retired IPS officer from the Himachal Pradesh cadre, served as state DGP from 2006 to 2008. He was also governor of Nagaland and, briefly, of Manipur.

Negative views of China rise sharply in Australia, Britain, 12 other countries, says survey; COVID-19 handling key factor
World

Negative views of China rise sharply in Australia, Britain, 12 other countries, says survey; COVID-19 handling key factor

Citizens in the surveyed countries also do not trust China's leader Xi Jinping, with a median of 78 percent saying they do not have confidence in him to do the right thing in world affairs

Ballia firing: BJP leader, seven others charged with NSA, gangster act in killing of 46-yr-old, say police
India

Ballia firing: BJP leader, seven others charged with NSA, gangster act in killing of 46-yr-old, say police

BJP leader Dhirendra Pratap Singh allegedly shot dead Jai Prakash on Thursday as a fracas broke out over allotment of ration shops during a meeting at Durjanpur village in Uttar Pradesh