As reported by Raghav Ohri in expressindia.com on 12 June 2008:
Again, UT District Courts refuse to give information under RTI Act - ExpressIndia.Com
Again, UT District Courts refuse to give information under RTI Act
Chandigarh, June 12 Newsline had demanded the number of criminal cases pending because the police witnesses or investigating officers had not turned up in court
In yet another failure to stick to regulations, the UT District Courts has refused to supply information demanded under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
In an application filed under the RTI Act, this reporter had demanded information with regard to the number of criminal cases pending solely because the police witnesses/ investigating officers of the case had not turned up in court. The details of the action taken against such police officers were also sought by Newsline. The application was filed on April 29, 2008.
Flatly denying the requisite information, the Public Information Officer stated that the said information cannot be supplied since it would impede the process of investigation or the prosecution of offenders.
The reply reads: “The said information is barred under Section 8 (1) sub-clause (h) that states that no such details can be given to any citizen of India, which may impede the process of investigation or prosecution of offenders. Providing such information is interference in the judicial proceedings, especially when the criminal cases are pending for adjudication before different courts.”
“In view of the aforesaid reasons, the application moved by you under the RTI Act as a third party is hereby rejected as misconceived. However, as per Section 19 of the RTI Act, you may file an appeal before the appellate authority,” the reply further reads.
But the experts think otherwise. “This is just an alibi. The information sought is not regarding a specific case or an individual but the number of pending criminal cases. How can such general information be denied? It has become a normal practice of the Public Information Officers to refuse information demanded under the RTI Act,” said R K Garg, a social activist.
A public prosecutor, on condition of anonymity, admitted that there are umpteen cases pending on account of continuous absence of police witnesses. “There is no doubt that there are many criminal cases pending, especially that of attempt to murder, in which police witnesses do not appear. Many do not turn up even after their salaries are attached or strictures are passed against them,” said the advocate.
This is not the first time that the UT District Courts has denied information to Newsline. In another application filed under the RTI Act, Newsline had sought information regarding the total number of leaves a magistrate or sessions judge in the UT District Courts is entitled to and the leaves taken by all the judges from January to December 2007. Denying the information, the UT District Courts had replied: “The information asked for cannot be supplied as it does not concern you and there is also no public interest involved.”