The Strategic Forces Command (SFC) which forms part of the National Command Authority (NCA) has been added to the Second Schedule of the Right to Information Act (RTI), 2005.
In this regard, Union Government has issued a notification mentioning SFC has been brought under sub-section (2) of Section 24 of the RTI. The Section 24 of the RTI exempts security and intelligence establishments from its purview.
Section 24 and Second Schedule of RTI
- Section 24 of the RTI Act 2005: It says that this law is not applicable to the intelligence and security organisations specified in the Second Schedule.
- However, the only exception these organisations have is for information on allegations of corruption and human rights violations.
- Second Schedule: It includes 26 intelligence and security agencies under its ambit. Some of them are (i) Intelligence Bureau (IB), (ii) Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) of the Cabinet Secretariat (iii) Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI), (iv) Special Frontier Force (SFF), (v) Border Security Force (BSF) (vi) National Security Guards (NSG) and (Vii) Assam Rifles.
Section 8 of the RTI: It deals with exemption from disclosure of information under this legislation. It says that there shall be no obligation on Government to provide any citizen information, disclosure which will affect (i) India’s sovereignty and integrity, (ii) security, (iii) strategic, scientific or economic interests of the state and (iv) relations with foreign States or (v) will lead to incitement of an offence.
About Strategic Forces Command (SFC)
- The SFC (सामरिक बल कमान) is a tri-Service command that forms part of India’s Nuclear Command Authority (NCA).
- It was created on January 4, 2003 by an executive order of Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) headed by then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
- Function: It is responsible for the management and administration of the country’s tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile.
- It is headed by a Commander-in-Chief of the rank of Air Marshal. The first commander-in-chief of SFC was Air Marshal Teja Mohan Asthana.
About Nuclear Command Authority (NCA)
- NCA is India’s nodal authority responsible for command, control and operational decisions regarding India’s nuclear weapons programme.
- It has Executive Council and Political Council. The NCA’s directives are executed by the Strategic Forces Command
- The Executive Council is chaired by the National Security Adviser (NSA). It gives inputs to the Political Council, which authorises a nuclear attack if need be.
- The Political Council is chaired by the Prime Minister and is advised by the Executive Council.
- This separation of power mechanism is meant to ensure that the nuclear weapons are under civilian control (elected government). Besides it act as a Command and Control (C2) mechanism prevents their accidental or unauthorised use.