RTI query on Batla House encounter not replied

By RINA,

New Delhi: Speaking on ‘RTI and Better Governance’ in third annual meeting of Central Information Commission, asked government officers to voluntarily furnish more and more information to the masses in order to decentralize power. However, Delhi police and officers in All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) refused to divulge information on relevant facts of controversial Batla House encounter sought under Right to Information (RTI) Act.

On September 25, Afroz Alam Sahil had submitted an RTI application with Delhi police seeking information on post-mortem reports of persons killed during encounter, the First Information Report (FIR) and other details. He also submitted a similar application with the authorities at AIIMS, enquiring how many corpses were brought to the hospital after the encounter and when, how many corpses were examined post-mortem, at which level was it done and who was the doctor, were these corpses handed over to police or their family members?

RTI Act requires a reply within 30 days but neither Delhi police nor AIIMS authorities have furnished the information required in the query, even after a passage of 39 days. Whereas Delhi police are completely mum, the letter from AIIMS is rather stunning. Referring to article 8(1) and 8(1) H, they argued that said information cannot be given to the applicant. But when asked by BBC if said information can be withheld under said provisions, the senior pleader and a legal expert Vrinda Grovar said the argument of AIIMS administration is baseless. AIIMS is pioneering healthcare institution of the country.

Vrinda Grovar told that article 8(1) prohibits from furnishing information only when any court stops from doing so. Similarly, 8(1) H is binding for only that information on which investigations are on but post-mortem report does not affect any investigation in any way. She further said, “Refusal to furnish information creates the doubt that could have been done at behest of people in background.”

Sources believe that both prestigious establishments, Delhi police and AIIMS have acted against the law by flouting RTI Act. Two Muslim youths were killed in police encounter which people believe to be a fake encounter. All this requires more transparency on part of government officials. Obvious dilly-dalliance has prompted Mr. Afroz to say, “Delhi police and AIIMS want to escape from their responsibility which is unfortunate for both the law and the democracy.”

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