Statesman News Service
BHUBANESWAR, Aug 8: Chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik swears by transparency almost on a daily basis, but the home department which he heads moves the High Court even when directions to provide information are issued by the State Information Commission.

Equally strange is the contradictory stands taken by different wings of the department.

The latest is an interesting case relating to information sought on custodial deaths. The Crime Branch has moved the High Court against an order of the State Information Commission and the home department has also chipped in.

Human rights activist Mr Biswapriya Kanungo had applied for details of custodial deaths that had taken place between 1989 to 2006 under the RTI Act.

The police stations where these had taken place, the nature of probe ordered , their findings and action taken etc.

The human rights protection cell provided relevant information from 2001-06. But information relating to the period between 1989 to 2001 was reportedly with the crime branch. The HRPC figures showed that 11 custodial deaths had taken place till 2006.

Crime branch , on its part , initially pleaded that it cannot provide such information and claimed exemption under Section 24 (4) of the Act which relates to special category activities /security/intelligence and so on.

The State Information Commission overruled the plea and passed an order on 10th July directing the crime branch to provide the information by 24 July as it relates to human rights and does not impede on any special activity.

Instead of complying, the crime branch has preferred to move the High Court and interestingly the home department has also become a party.

Moreover one of the contentions in their move to the court is that such information is available with other police establishments, stated Mr Kanungo while expressing his dismay.

One wonders why the CB is reluctant to provide the information and how come the home department has joined hands.

Does it serve public interest and is this the way a transparent government observes the RTI Act, questioned human rights activists and a section of lawyers here.

The Statesman