AAI refuses to reveal from which airport Adar Poonawalla flew to London; MHA too shoots down RTI query
Airports Authority of India and Ministry of Home Affairs referred to different clauses of RTI Act for refusing to share information related to Adar Poonawalla sought by an RTI activist
The Airports Authority of India (AAI), which functions under the Ministry of Civil Aviation, has refused to disclose details about the time and from which airport India’s vaccine czar Adar Poonawalla flew to London in May, when the country was grappling with a shortage of vaccines.
Similarly, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), which provided Y-category security to Poonawalla days before his sudden departure, has declined to share information about when and where the CEO of Serum Institute of India (SII) left his security watch.
As per relevant rules, it is mandatory for such protectees to inform the security personnel about their whereabouts.
Y-category security involves 11 personnel including two commandos and police personnel.
“Has Poonawalla informed his security in-charge before leaving the country or not?” Nagpur based RTI activist Mohnish Jabalpure asked MHA through an RTI application.
While the MHA, led by Amit Shah, said the information sought is related to a third party and hence does not come under RTI Act’s preview, the AAI said the information sought does not fall under the category of information.
AAI and MHA referred to different clauses of the RTI Act in their replies for not sharing the information.
“In this regard it is stated that you have sought information related to a third person. The details are exempted under Section 8(1)(g), 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act - 2005,” the MHA replied.
“Information sought is in the form of question and is not defined as information as per section 2(f) of RTI Act 2005,” Western Wing of the Airports Authority of India replied.
“Air traffic control (ATC) records movement of every plane coming in or going out of the country. In case of a charter plan, you must take prior permission from the ATC. Then ATC provides the route. So AAI’s refusal to share information related to Poonawalla’s trip to London is too hard to digest,” said Jabalpure.
Jabalpure had also sought information about Adar Poonawalla’s father Cyrus Poonawalla, who left India 15 days after Adar’s departure to London.
Adar and his father both spoke to the media in London but when National Herald contacted SII and Adar Poonawalla’s office for information about his plans to return to India, they did not respond. Adar Poonawalla was then reportedly living in London. The story regarding his protracted stay in London can be read here:
Speaking to the British media, Adar Poonawalla had said he felt threatened in India.
His father Cyrus had asserted that speculation about them fleeing the country was “malicious”.
Incidentally, Adar Poonawalla, who was quite active on Twitter before the pandemic ravaged the country, has not uttered a single word about his plans to return to India so far.
He had tweeted on July 8 congratulating the newly-appointed Minister for Railways and then on July 12 in which he advocated equal opportunity for the transgender community in vaccination.
A scrutiny of his Twitter timeline suggests that since May 1, the day he held a meeting in London to expand his vaccine manufacturing business, he tweeted only 9 times, which is rather unusual for a person like him who likes to flaunt his success and glamour on social media.
Published: 17 Jul 2021, 2:49 PM