The disclosure of information related to casualties suffered by army during Kargil war and number of terrorists killed cannot be made public as it would "affect morale of nation", Central Information Commission has held in an order 14 years after the war.
Ironically, most of the details which Information Commissioner M L Sharma allowed the army to withhold are already in public domain through the official web site of the Press Information Bureau, a Government of India department.
A feature given on the PIB web site on "Operation Vijay" clearly says that 527 brave soldiers and airmen laid down their lives during the Kargil war.
The curious decision of Sharma came on the plea of RTI applicant Om Prakash Kashiram who sought to know from the army the number of terrorists and the Indian soldiers killed in the Kargil War and the matters related therewith.
The information which was sought last year in May was denied by army citing section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act which allows withholding of information, disclosure of 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.
Kashiram then preferred an appeal before the CIC contesting the claims of army.
When the matter reached Sharma, he agreed with the views taken by army and allowed withholding information.
"War related casualties cannot be placed in public domain without a reasonable distance of time as they affect the morale of the nation in general and that of the troops in particular. Disclosure of such information has a bearing on the national security," Sharma held in his order which was given nearly 14 years of the war.