CIC seeks records of 1971 cabinet mole, Shastri death

Move follows govts refusal to part with information on an RTI plea

In two separate RTI applications, author of “CIA's eye on South Asia” Anuj Dhar had sought to know from the government the details about the alleged CIA mole in the Indira Gandhi cabinet of 1971 who, according to some reports, passed on crucial information about India-Pakistan war to the US.

The CIC move followed the government’s refusal to part with the information on the two subjects. Most of the information was denied to Dhar citing section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act that exempts disclosure of 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.”

During the hearing, Dhar submitted that the US government had already declassified information which had references to some sources in India leaking information about the briefings given to the then Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the ongoing India-Pakistan war to the American snooping agency.

Taking cognisance of the fact that the information sought was 30-40 years old, Chief Information Commissioner Satyananda Mishra directed Prime Minister's Office and the Cabinet Secretariat to produce records before him in sealed cover.

“Keeping in view that the information relates to a period now nearly three to four decades old, we would like to see the contents to satisfy ourselves that, indeed, the information is sensitive enough for India’s security and foreign relations concerns. It is only after that it should be possible to decide, if the information should be disclosed,” Mishra said in the order.

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