Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Cops can’t deny info that don’t hamper probe: CIC

Cops can’t deny info that don’t hamper probe: CIC
In a significant order, the state Chief Information Commission (CIC) has ruled that the police department is liable to furnish such information under the Right to Information (RTI) Act which do not relate to state or national security or directly affect an ongoing investigation.
The CIC said police agencies cannot deny information relating to general crimes to citizens under the RTI Act citing conditional exemption.
The CIC order came on an RTI application filed by one Devilal Bherumal Parikh, a resident of Bhaipura village in Vadol taluka of Tapi district, who had sought information relating to the murder of his son Ashish from the Public Information Officer (PIO), Bardoli Police Station and Deputy Superintendent of Police, CID(Crime).
Parikh's son went missing in April 2008. Later, his body was cremated without any investigation and postmortem by the Bardoli police, which claimed it was unidentified. When he was denied details about his son's death, he filed an RTI application in October 2008 and asked for a copy of his own statement taken by the police, a copy of the accused's polygraphy test and narco analysis report and related records.
When the local police did not respond, Parikh approached the Superintendent of Police, Surat (rural), who is appellate authority under the RTI Act. The case was given to a DySP at CID (Crime) of Vadodara Zone. Once again, the applicant was denied information on the ground that section 8(1) of the RTI Act exempted the agency from giving out certain information.
Following this, Parikh filed a second appeal in the CIC, which ruled that the police were liable to furnish the information the complainant had asked for since section 8(1) only exempted information on "investigation to a person which the investigating officer knows to be guilty of an arrestable offence and who may have the intention of preventing or delaying his arrest or prosecution".
Chief Information Commissioner R N Das noted in his order that the condition did not apply in the present case where the complainant is the father of deceased. The CIC also criticised the denial of a copy of the complainant's own statement to him by the PIO. The CIC has also asked the Additional Director General of Police (CID) to pass appropriate orders to all his officers to not reject RTI applications outright, citing exemption.