According to the Central Information Commission, details of Chinese losses from the fight between Chinese and Indian soldiers in Ladakh two years ago cannot be made public.
The Central Information Commission, the highest appeals court under the Right to Information Act, recently denied a request for “the casualties to the Chinese troops, if any, by valiant warriors of the nation” during the fighting on June 15 and 16, 2020.
Akhand, the RTI requester, also requested information about the number of deaths sustained by Indian troops in the Galwan valley, which is close to the Line of Actual Control (LAC), and the amount of rehabilitation and compensation given to the families of soldiers killed in action.
In addition, the RTI requester asked the army whether any Indian troops were reported missing in the Galwan valley following the conflict.
According to Section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act, which exempts from publication any personal information, the army declined to provide the information because it was third-party information and could not be shared.
The army also used Section 8(1)(a) of the RTI Act, which prohibits the disclosure of information that might harm India’s sovereignty and integrity, its security, its economic interests, its relations with other states, or the instigation of criminal activity, to reject the information.
The CIC was informed by Mr Akhand’s representation that the situation concerns broader public interest and that Mr Akhand should be given the information.
“It is noticed that a suitable reply was given to the appellant wherein it was correctly stated that as the information is connected to third parties, the information cannot be disclosed under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act,” said information commissioner Vanaja N. Sarna.
“Additionally, it was asserted that the RTI Act’s section 8(1)(a) does not permit the disclosure of the material because of its sensitivity. There can be no compensation since the Commission was unable to identify any error in the response “She said.
After the battles in the Galwan valley on June 15, 2020, the dispute over the eastern Ladakh boundary became worse.
The conflicts between India and China were the most violent in decades, with 20 army soldiers dying in combat.
China has admitted that five troops had died. According to an investigative Australian newspaper investigation from February of this year, the Chinese losses were estimated to be greater because some men drowned when crossing the river in the dark.