KNT Web Desk
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has told an RTI (Right To Information) applicant that information regarding casualties suffered by the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) in the 2020 clashes with Indian forces in Ladakh’s Galwan valley cannot be disclosed.
RTI applicant Akhand had sought to know “the casualties to the Chinese forces, if any, by brave soldiers of the country” and “if Indian soldiers are missing in the Galwan river valley after the clash and its plans to rescue them.”
He has also sought information about casualties suffered by Indian forces at Galwan River Valley, Ladakh, near the Line of Actual Control during the clash and rehabilitation and ex-gratia paid to the families.
In response, the CIC, the highest appellate body under the Right to Information Act (RTI), said it was third-party information that could not be shared.
The army refused to disclose the information saying it was third-party information that cannot be shared under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act, which exempts from disclosure information that is personal in nature.
To deny the information, the army also cited Section 8(1)(a) of the Act, which exempts from disclosure the information which would prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security, strategic, scientific, or economic interests of the State, relation with foreign State or lead to incitement of an offence.
The representative of Akhand argued before the CIC that the matter involves a more considerable public interest, and the information should be provided to him.
Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna said, “It is noted that a proper reply was given to the appellant whereby it was rightly stated that since the information is related to third parties, the information cannot be provided under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act.”
“It was also stated that the information is sensitive in nature and cannot be provided under section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act. The Commission is unable to find any flaw in the reply. Hence, no relief can be given,” she said.
Pertinently, in June 2020, the Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh was the scene of the most violent clashes between Indian and Chinese militaries in nearly four decades.
The stand-off and hand-to-hand combat resulted in 20 deaths on the Indian side, including Colonel Santosh Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment.
Beijing has officially acknowledged the death of five PLA soldiers.