Can PM Narendra Modi's Foreign Trip Bills Be Public Information? Review Begins

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Can PM Narendra Modi's Foreign Trip Bills Be Public Information? Review Begins

Prime Minister's Office, foreign ministry refused to share PM's travel details citing security concerns.


New Delhi: 

Highlights

  1. RTI activist asked for details of PM's foreign trips, how bills cleared
  2. Activist said Air India has to pay heavily for delays in bills
  3. Information Commission to review whether information can be made public
Files related to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's foreign travel have been called for by the Chief Information Commission, which wants to know if details of how much was spent and how bills are cleared can be made public.

PM Modi has travelled to over 40 countries since he took office in May 2014. But there have been delays in clearing flight charter bills, for which national carrier Air India is paying heavily, says Right to Information campaigner Lokesh Batra. He had used RTI to ask for details of the foreign travels of PM Modi and his predecessor Manmohan Singh.

"Air India is in deep financial crisis and I wanted to know why it takes so long to clear bills to the national carrier under different regimes," Commodore Batra told NDTV.

The information commission will decide whether these records can be disclosed.

The Prime Minister's Office and the External Affairs Ministry had refused to share the details, flagging security concerns.

PMO officials had informed the Chief Information Commissioner that security details would be compromised if the files were shown to the RTI activist. Commodore Batra, however, told the information body that he only wants to study the reason for delays in clearing bills to Air India.

The Information Commission has asked the Prime Minister's Office to produce the information by November 18.

Earlier this year, the PM's official website put up details of his visits and the cost of chartering flights. For many of the tours, there are gaps as bills are described as "under process" or "not received".

Spending for the Prime Minister's foreign trips is listed under "Cabinet Ministers - Maintenance of PM's aircraft - other charges" in the Budget. For his domestic visits, the expenses are billed to the Defence Ministry.


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