New Delhi: The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the army to provide details of soldiers whose bodies were mutilated by insurgents and soldiers during skirmishes on Pakistan and China borders. The case resulted from a RTI application filed by Abhishek Shukla in 2013 as the army decided to keep under covers the information in this regard about the soldiers who had given supreme sacrifice for the country fighting enemies.
"People of the country have right to know about the soldiers who lay down their lives in the line of duty," Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha said. The army which was supposed to respond to an RTI application within 30 days, according to the law, took nearly 78 days to give its first response, after repeated reminders.
However, the army declined to share any detail citing section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act to withhold the information. Section 8(1)(a) exempts information which can prejudicially affect security of the country.
The first appeal before the senior officials of the army challenging the decision of the Central Public Information Officer was also summarily rejected without going into the merits of arguments presented by the appellant. Reluctant to share any information, the army raised an additional argument during the hearing before Divya Prakash Sinha, saying that its headquarters does not maintain the information of soldiers whose bodies have been mutilated by the enemy or terrorists.
The appellant countered it saying if they do not maintain the information, how was the army citing national security to deny it.