AI denies price of VVIP Boeing 777-300s to RTI applicant without reasons; CIC issues show-cause
New Delhi: An "irked" Central Information Commission (CIC) issued a show-cause notice to Air India's CPIO on Thursday for the "callous attitude" while denying information about the purchase price of Air India-I aircraft to ferry VVIPs like the president and the prime minister.
The national carrier, while denying an RTI applicant the details of the cost and status of the purchase of Boeing 777-300, to be used as Air India-I, did not invoke any of the RTI exemption clauses in an "inordinately delayed" response, Information Commissioner Divya Prakash Sinha noted.
An RTI applicant had approached the commission, the highest adjudicating body under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, after he failed to get a satisfactory response from Air India. Air India has purchased two Boeing 777-300ERs, which will replace the over 25-year-old jumbo jets -- B747-400s -- which used to ferry the president, vice-president and the prime minister. The jets chartered by the national carrier for VVIP flights are given the call sign, Air India-I. The two jets are part Air India's 2006 order to Boeing for 68 aircraft -- 27 Dreamliners, 15 B777-300 ERs, eight B777-200 LRs and 18 B737-800s.
The aircraft have been retrofitted with additional features required for the movement of dignitaries. When the matter came up for hearing before the CIC, the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO), the nodal officer for handling RTI applications in a public authority, of Air India was not present. He had, instead, delegated it to a different officer, who was caught unaware about the reasons for the delayed response. Under the RTI Act, a response to an application should mandatorily be provided within 30 days. The information could only be denied citing a suitable exemption clause under the RTI Act and "not merely on apprehensions and conjecture", Sinha noted.