Skip to main content

Govt of India "refuses" to make public laws, regulations that protect RAW agents abroad, rejects RTI plea

By Our Representative
The Government of India has rejected a right to information (RTI) plea seeking information about “laws, rules and regulations” that explain the nature and the extent of legal protection provided to officers and employees of the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), who are engaged in overseas intelligence operations.
In his RTI plea to the Cabinet secretariat in January 2016, senior Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI) activist Venkatesh Nayak had also sought information regarding “procedures, norms, instructions or guidelines” that contain details of the action that must be taken by the Government of India to defend the officers and employees of RAW engaged in overseas intelligence operations.
He had also sought information the action that the Government of India is obliged to take upon receipt of information about the death of any officer or employee of RAW who was engaged in overseas intelligence operations, due to any adverse action taken against him/her by any agency in a foreign country.
Nayak says, by refusing the information, the Government of India is stating that, while it wants citizens to work for them to gather and analyse intelligence for maintaining the external security of the country, they will not tell people what mechanisms exist for ensuring their safety and security.
The RTI plea acquires importance against the backdrop of a recent report of arrest of a person of Indian origin by Pakistan's law enforcement agencies. While Pakistan summoned India's envoy to that country and issued a demarche about the alleged "interference” by India in its internal affairs in Balochistan through R&AW, the official spokesperson for the Ministry of External Affairs vehemently denied it.
However, the Ministry confirmed the apprehended individual is a retired Indian Navy officer and has sought consular access to him.
Pointing out that “there is no information in the public domain about what must be done, if, heavens forbid, an Indian intelligence operative were to be murdered abroad”, Nayak believes, “This is a concern that is very much valid even though it must not be taken as a comment on the latest incident of the apprehension of an Indian national in Pakistan.”
Two weeks after the RTI plea was filed, Cabinet Secretariat rejected the RTI application stating that all the information sought pertained to the organization is “exempt” from the purview of the RTI Act under Section 24. “Interestingly, the CPIO does not even mention the name, R&AW in his reply. So high is the level of secrecy”, comments Nayak.
Saying that the reply “is in tune with past attempts which frustrate all efforts to secure basic transparency in the working of exempt organizations”, Nayak says, in 2014 the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) replied to an RTI plea that the actions of left wing militants in blowing up a CRPF convoy resulting in the deaths of CRPF personnel in Bihar and Chhattisgarh during election duty “did not amount to human rights violation of the deceased”.
“I hope the same attitude is not adopted by the intelligence agencies in relation to their operatives who are posted abroad”, Nayak says, adding, “The citizens of India have the right to know what measures the Government is required to undertake by law to ensure the safe return of its external intelligence operatives even though they may not have been involved in the latest case as clarified by the Government.”
“R&AW is also not transparent about the manner in which it deals with RTI applications year after year”, Nayak says, adding, “The Central Information Commission's Annual Report for 2014-15 lists only one instance of rejection of an RTI application under Section 24 for the entire year.”
Noting that “it is highly unlikely that R&AW received only one RTI application during this period”, Nayak says, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) “received more than a thousand RTI applications in 2014-15. Of these 95.5% requests were rejected by invoking Section 24 of the RTI Act.” The IB is India's premier internal intelligence agency.

Comments

TRENDING

Green revolution "not sustainable", Bt cotton a failure in India: MS Swaminathan

Counterview Desk
In a recent paper in the journal “Current Science”, distinguished scientist PC Kesaven and his colleague MS Swaminathan, widely regarded as the father of the Green Revolution, have argued that Bt insecticidal cotton, widely regarded as the continuation of the Green Revolution, has been a failure in India and has not provided livelihood security for mainly resource-poor, small and marginal farmers.
Sharply taking on Green Revolution, the authors say, it has not been sustainable largely because of adverse environmental and social impacts, insisting on the need to move away from the simplistic output-yield paradigm that dominates much thinking. Seeking to address the concerns about local food security and sovereignty as well as on-farm and off-farm social and ecological issues associated with the Green Revolution, they argue in favour of what they call sustainable ‘Evergreen Revolution’, based on a ‘systems approach’ and ‘ecoagriculture’.
Pointing out that Evergreen Revol…

World Bank clarifies: Its 26th rank to India not for universal access to power but for ease of doing business

By Our Representative
In a major embarrassment to the Government of India, the World Bank has reportedly clarified that it has not ranked India 26th out of 130 countries for providing power to its population. The top international banker’s clarification comes following Union Power Minister Piyush Goyal’s claim that India has “improved to 26 position from 99” in access to electricity in just one year.

Rejoinder: Inescapable to have Central Water Commission as strong technical body in India

By BN Navalawala*
This is with reference to Counterview Blog (December 5, 2018), "Modi govt 'shelves' water reforms report, shows 'no interest' in its recommendations", below mentioned are my comments/observations thereon:
A committee was constituted under the Chairmanship of Dr. Mihir Shah, Former Member, Planning Commission, for restructuring of Central Water Commission (CWC) and Central Ground Water Board (CGWB) for optimal development of water resources in the country in the backdrop of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

Some Hindu bodies in US defending BJP-RSS' divisive, violent activities: Agnivesh

Counterview Desk Last week, Washington DC saw speakers at a religious freedom roundtable, chaired by the US Ambassador for Religious Freedom, Sam Brownback, express concern over "eroding" space for religious freedom in India. Dr Mike Ghouse, executive director, of the Center for Pluralism in Washington DC, referring to the roundtable, said in an email alert that Indian-Americans have "a moral duty to prevent India from being labeled as a Country of Particular Concern by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF)".

Preventing childhood deaths: India performs worse than Bangladesh, "equals" Pakistan

By Rajiv Shah
A just-released study, “The Pneumonia and Diarrhea Progress Report 2018”, prepared by the International Vaccine Access Centre (IVAC) at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, has identified India among 15 other countries which are still far off the mark in achieving the targets of the Global Action Plan for the Prevention of Pneumonia and Diarrhea (GAPPD).

India's rewritten textbooks talk of demerits of democracy, praise Hitler, underrate Mughals

Counterview Desk
A detailed, 3,800-word review of the books rewritten under directions of the BJP rulers across India since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in May 2014 has suggested that one of aims of the books is to instill a sense of doubt about India’s democratic polity among the country’s young minds. Reviewed in the prestigious US journal, “The New York Review of Books”, in its latest issue (December 6, 2018) by Alex Traub, the scrutiny insists, the effort has also been to paint Indian history from the angle of “Hindu triumphalism”, even as creating “Islamophobia”.

Govt of India "tarnishing" NGO reputation, dossier leaked selectively: Amnesty

Counterview Desk
Amnesty International India has said that a deliberate attempt is being made to tarnish its reputation by leaking a dossier, supposedly made by investigating agencies, to media without giving it access to any such information. The high profile NGO’s claim follows a Times Now report about proceedings launched by investigative agencies, including Enforcement Directorate (ED) against the rights body for “violations” of rules pertaining to overseas donations.

60 ex-civil servants seek release of CAG reports on Rafale, demonetisation before 2019 polls

Counterview Desk
As many as 60 retired civil servants have asked President Ram Nath Kovind to expedite the release of Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) reports on demonetisation and the Rafale deal. The letter, signed mainly by former Indian Administrative Service, Indian Foreign Service and Indian Police Service officers, regrets that the status of the audit is "unclear”. According to them, “An impression is gaining ground that CAG is deliberately delaying its audit reports on demonetisation and Rafale deal till after the May 2019 elections so as not to embarrass the present government”.

Four children die after poor UP Dalit, Muslim families forced to flee to forest area: PVCHR

Counterview Desk
Peoples’ Vigilance Committee on Human Rights (PVCHR) has said that the forest department police’s crackdown, allegedly without any prior notice, on Dalit and Muslim households in Dakhin Tola, Churk Bazaar, Sonbhadra district, Uttar Pradesh, beating up “children and old people, women, and men in an inhuman way”, has led to “forced displacement, starvation and discrimination”. This has reportedly affected about 350 people.

Murder of Tamil Nadu teenage Dalit girl: "Stoic silence" despite #MeToo movement

Counterview Desk
Brinelle D'souza, who is with the Centre for Health and Mental Health, School of Social Work, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Mumbai, has prepared a strong statement to protest the brutal murder of 13-year-old Rajalakshmi. "Other than a few media reports, this gruesome killing has not caught national attention despite a very vibrant #MeToo campaign currently underway", regrets D'souza.