BHUBANESWAR, July 10: The state information commission directed the crime branch to furnish information relating to custodial death cases to a petitioner and said the crime branch is not exempt from doing so.
Rejecting the contention that the crime branch is exempt from such directions under Section 24(4) of the RTI, the commission noted that since matters relating to custodial death were human right issues, they should provide necessary information.

The commission has asked the crime branch to do so by 1 August and if necessary, route it through the appropriate level. Disclosing this social activist Mr Biswapriya Kanungo said he had sought information on custodial deaths from 1989 to 2006. While the state human rights protection cell had provided information for the period 2001-06, the crime branch refused to share information about the previous cases which were under its purview. It had claimed exemption, but the commission turned this down and issued orders today, informed Mr Kanungo.

As per the information available as many as 14 custodial deaths had taken place and not one case of conviction or punishment has been awarded during the period 2001-06, charged Mr Kanungo. Contrary to the perceived image of chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik, who holds the home portfolio, the government has not even booked a single person in connection with these cases, he observed.

The Statesman