Information regarding casualties suffered by Chinese soldiers in the Galwan valley clash with Indian forces in Ladakh two years ago cannot be disclosed, the Central Information Commission has held.
In a recent order, the CIC, the highest appellate body under the Right to Information Act (RTI), refused to allow a plea seeking "the casualties to the Chinese forces, if any, by brave soldiers of the country" during the clashes in the night of June 15 and 16, 2020.
RTI applicant Akhand had also sought information about casualties suffered by Indian forces at Galwan River Valley, Ladakh near the Line of Actual Control during the clash and rehabilitation and ex-gratia paid to the families.
In addition, the RTI applicant had sought to know from the army if Indian soldiers are missing in the Galwan river valley after the clash and its plans to rescue them.
The army refused to disclose the information saying it was third party information which cannot be shared under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act, which exempts from disclosure the information which is personal in nature.
To deny the information, the army also cited Section 8(1)(a) of the Act which exempts from disclosure the 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.
The representative of Akhand argued before the CIC that the matter involves larger public interest and the information should be provided to him.
Information Commissioner Vanaja N Sarna said, "It is noted that a proper reply was given to the appellant whereby it was rightly stated that since the information is related to third parties, the information cannot be provided under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act."
"It was also stated that the information being sensitive in nature cannot be provided under section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act. The Commission is unable to find any flaw in the reply, hence, no relief can be given," she said.
The eastern Ladakh border row escalated after the Galwan Valley clashes on June 15, 2020.
Twenty Indian Army personnel laid down their lives in the clashes that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in decades.
China had acknowledged the death of five soldiers during the clash.
The Chinese losses were pegged to be much higher with a number of soldiers drowning while crossing the river in the darkness, according to an investigative Australian newspaper report in February this year.
(With PTI inputs)