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Atul Patankar

'Chargsheeted appellant can't be denied info under RTI'

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Atul Patankar

As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on 25 May 2009

 

PANAJI: The mere fact that a chargesheet is filed against an RTI appellant in the court of the magistrate and he being an offender facing prosecution, does not mean he is not entitled to the information required.

 

This is the recent judgement of the state information commissioner Afonso Araujo, who ordered the superintendent of police (SP), police headquarters (PHQ), Panaji, to furnish the requested information to the appellant within 15 days of the order.

 

The order pertains to the application of Socorro D'Souza from Dongor Waddo, Fatorda, who on August 28, 2008 approached the SP PHQ seeking information under the Right to Information Act 2005. D'Souza required copies of the statements of witnesses recorded in the inquiry instituted against police sub-inspector Navlesh Dessai.

 

D'Souza is one of the accused in crime number 257/07 and the criminal case is pending trial. D'Souza made a representation to the chairman of ad-hoc committee (home affairs) stating that on a false complaint filed by one Prakash Pandey, PSI Navlesh Dessai registered the offence of extortion. In an inquiry conducted against PSI Navlesh Dessai, statements of a number of witnesses were recorded by senior superintendent of police V V Chowdary. D'Souza requested for those statements recorded in the inquiry conducted against PSI Navlesh Dessai.

 

The SP PHQ, however, denied the information under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act on grounds that the exemption from disclosure clause was attracted. D'Souza then filed his first appeal before the inspector general of police Kishan Kumar, who also upheld the denial of information by the SP PHQ.

 

The counsel for D'Souza submitted that he required the statements recorded in the inquiry conducted against PSI Navlesh Dessai by senior superintendent of police (SSP) V B Chowdhury and that as D'Souza is the complainant in the inquiry, he is entitled to the copies of statements of witnesses whose names are mentioned in the application. The counsel also produced copies of application and order of anticipatory bail, order of State Police Complaints Authority and stated that a false case was filed against D'Souza. He stated that the exemption from disclosure clause was not attracted in this case.

 

On the other hand, counsel for police submitted that D'Souza was one of the accused and that there was no need of the inquiry as charge sheet has been filed in the court. Police counsel stated that the information was rightly denied under section 8(1)(h) of the Act as the appellant may use those statements in the case and damage the prosecution case.

 

The state information commissioner, however, noted that the mere fact that a chargesheet is filed in the court and the appellant being an offender facing prosecution, does not mean that he is not entitled for the information required.

 

The commissioner made several observations; the appellant always maintained that a false case was registered against him by PSI Dessai for which an inquiry was conducted; the SP Headquarters has not indicated how the statements of the witnesses recorded in the inquiry will affect the prosecution of the appellant.

 

The commissioner also noted that although the appellant was implicated in a serious offence of extortion, the State Police Authority indicated prima facie a case of misconduct of PSI Dessai. Noting that providing the statements of the witnesses recorded in the inquiry in no way will hamper the prosecution case, the commissioner ordered that the information be provided to D'Souza within 15 days of the order.

Source: http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/Goa/Chargsheeted-appellant-cant-be-denied-info-under-RTI/articleshow/4573073.cms

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