Ministry of Defense has refused to disclose information pertaining to the operations of the Indian Military Aircraft stationed in the Maldives by claiming that the agreement regarding the aircraft is classified information.
The Ministry stated this during an appeal hearing held by the Information Commissioners Office in regards to a Right to Information request by Dhiyares News which sought to get details of the agreement signed between Maldives and India to station an Indian Military Dornier Aircraft in the Maldives. Dhiyares News appealed the response given by the information officer of the Ministry of Defense and the appeal committee of the ministry.
Ministry of Defense stated that the Dornier agreement is classified as are other defense cooperation agreements. When asked under which law such agreements were deemed to be classified, the ministry refused to answer the query.
During the hearing, the ministry faced several questions from the Information Commissioner Hussain Fiyaz. His questions included queries about the duration of the agreement and the signatories of the agreement. He also asked the ministry whether disclosing the names of the signatories would be a threat to national security. However, the ministry did not answer any of these queries.
In response to the hearing, the appeal committee of the ministry stated that the requested information was deemed to be a threat to national security by a committee of Maldives National Defence Force. Hence, the ministry’s appeal committee stated that they were convinced that the information requested by Dhiyares News was a threat to national security due to the actions of the MNDF.
The hearing was concluded with the announcement that another hearing would be held next week. The Information Commissioner noted that he has several questions for the next hearing. In this regard, he noted that he would like to clarify how releasing the duration of the agreement would endanger national security.