CIC thwarts alleged offender’s bid to identify witnesses
New Delhi, May 16: The Central Information Commission has turned down a plea of a student accused of sexual harassment in Jawaharlal Nehru University to provide audio tapes of statements recorded during the inquiry against him.
Information Commissioner O P Kejariwal allowed the contention of the varsity authorities saying that the applicant would be able to identify the deponents by their voices and might indulge in slander against them.
Moggallan Bharat, an M.Phil student, had filed an RTI application with the public information officer of the University in December in 2007, seeking a certified copy of GSCASH (Gender Sensitisation Committee Against Sexual Harassment) inquiry report.
GSCASH was set up in the varsity in April, 1999 as JNU policy against sexual harassment was approved by the executive council following a landmark judgement of the Supreme Court in the Vishaka case in 1997.
The varsity authorities furnished Bharat the sought information barring the audio tapes of the depositions against him during the inquiry.
They took recourse to a provision under the RTI Act giving the information officer power to deny details, which may endanger life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information.
During the hearing on the matter, the JNU authorities expressed their fear that if they supplied tapes to applicant, he could easily identify the persons and could also "unnecessarily indulge in slander" against them.
They also presented before the CIC some "objectionable" materials which were circulated allegedly by the applicant within the varsity campus to support their contention.