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Examine RTI's exemption categories before releasing human rights violation report: Gujarat's top Info Commissioner

Balwant Singh
By Rajiv Shah
Gujarat’s chief information commissioner Balwant Singh, in a ruling, which is unlikely to be taken kindly by RTI activists, has said that senior IAS official Sanjay Prasad’s two-year-old report on the death of three Dalit youths in police firing of September 2012, may be public, as it relates to a “human rights violation”, but under certain condition.
The release of the report, says Singh, should be done after examining if the report or its portions are under the Right to Information (RTI) Act’s exemption category Section 8(1).
Putting the job of examining this on Gujarat government officials, Singh says, they should find out if any of its portions in the report fall under the “exemption” categories of Section 8(1)(a), 8(1)(c), 8(1)(g) and 8(1)(i).
He underlines, the commission under him “is imposing this condition because the commission has not has not seen the report, which is supposed to be under submission and pending for government’s decision.”
Section 8(1)(a) exempts disclosure which would “prejudicially affect the sovereignty and integrity of India”; section 8(1)(c) exempts disclosure, if it leads to “breach of privilege of Parliament or State Legislature”; Section 8(1)(g) exempts disclosure if it endangers “the life or physical safety of any person”; and Section 8(1)(i) exempts disclosure about “cabinet papers, including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers.”
As the commission “is not in a position to decide whether any provisions of the Section 8(1) of the RTI Act will be attracted in this matter”, Singh says, it is the job of the First Appellate Authority, who is Additional Secretary, Law and Order, Home Department, Gujarat government, to do the job.
“He should examine whether any of the above provisions of Section 8(1) will be attracted in this matter. He should also examine whether the report can be disclosed after severing any part of it which contains exempt information under Section 8(1)(a) or 8(1)(g) of the said Act”, he says.
“Before doing this”, Singh says, “The Appellate Authority has to make sure that the provisions of Section 8(1)(c) or 8(1)(i) are not attracted in this matter.” At the same time, it allowed the applicant, Kirit Rathod, a Dalit rights activist who had sought to make public the report through an RTI plea, 45-days time to put forward his position.
Singh imposes these conditions despite the fact that he believes the “special branches of the home Department may be handling a range of issues, but not all of which can be said to affect ‘intelligence and security’ aspects of the state.”
He clarifies, “The inquiry report of Sanjay Prasad may have some effect on law and order issues in certain areas, but it cannot be said to adversely affect the ‘intelligence and security’ matters of the state.”
The death of three Dalit youths sparked statewide protest against the police action, following which the Gujarat government was forced to ask the then social justice and empowerment secretary Sanjay Prasad to examine into the incident. Ever since Prasad submitted his report, Rathod had been seeking to look into its details, but in vain.

Comments

Venkatesh Nayak said…
The SIC's decision is not bad but it is not commendable either. As the appellant has filed a first appeal already and the disposal of that matter was not satisfactory, there is no reason why the SIC must remand the matter back to the FAA again and again. I have two similar matters pending with Delhi HC after CIC agreed that there were allegations of HR violation against CRPF in a case of extra judicial killing but national security applied to may case. These cases are pending since 2013. Next hearing is on 22 Jan.
Drrkd Goel said…
15 Feb 2007, 2019 hrs IST , INDIATIMES NEWS NETWORKPeople must point out my mistakes: Modi NEW DELHI:Reference Modi’s Mistakes Date: 15.11.2007MISTAKES OF Mr. NARENDRA MODI: Hon. CHIEF MINISTER OF GUJARATTo: -Sri Narendra Modi,Hon. Chief Minister of Gujarat. Hon. Sirs,1. Your 1st biggest mistake “You don’t like RTI Act 05 to be implemented in the Gujarat State “The Gujarat IAS, GAS Bureaucrats are too much reluctant to implement RTI Act 2005 in the State of Gujarat. Till date the GAD has not cancelled the Circular VHS dated 14.11.2005 not to give 'file notings' to an applicant of RTI Act 05. (Refer my E-mail dated 13.10.2007 and 15.10.2007)Your IAS, GAS Bureaucrats seems afraid in allowing the 'file notings' despite the orders of CIC / all other States CICs as well as Gujarat State Chief Information Commissioner's orders dated 25.10.2006, in case of Mr. P.V.Bhatt VS UD & UH depttThe GAD Circular dated 14.11.2005 of RTI Cell is issued in the Name of Governor of Gujarat. It means this circular is approved by you. Now this circular is pending from 25.10.2006 with the Committee of Secretaries, Govt. of Gujarat decision’s to be cancelled or not. Till date this circular is not cancelled which might be pending for your approval.IT SHOWS YOU ARE NOT INTERESTED TO HAVE TRANSPARENCY IN GUJARAT GOVT. WORKING AND the IAS, GAS OFFICERS SHOULD HIDE THE GOVT’s.WRONG orders / decisions.THIS IS YOUR BIGGEST MISTAKE NOT TO ALLOW RTI Act 2005 TO BE IMPLEMENTED IN GUJARAT OF ITS OBJECTIVES to “MINIMISING CORRUPTIONS and BRINGING ANSWERABILITY; RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCOUNTABILITY OF Officer’s in their working”Please make Gujarat State Bureaucrats dealing transparent.2. Your 2nd mistake “You have not appointed LOKAYUKTA to deal with the corruption cases against the Politician. “ In the absence of Lokayukta the public can’t lodge the complaints of corruption cases against the Ministers, MLAs, and Corporators etc for investigations as is the case in other states. (The BJP ruled Madhya Pradesh have Lokayukta who is doing good work). My almost 20 applications from October 2005 are pending with the Public authority “VMSS Vadodara” who has not giving me 'file notings' and referred my case on 29.5.2007 to GAD of circular dated 14.11.2005 not to give 'file notings'. Refer my e-mail sent on Sat, 13 Oct 2007 12:23 am. Post copy of my mail dispatched to all. (Hon.GSCIC kept Judgments of my 2nd appeals pending)The VMSS Vadodara officers knows well that if they will give me 'file notings' their rampant corruption and wrong doings from last 15 years will be exposed.Dr.R.K.D.Goel. Till Date I am not getting replies of my RTI Act 05 applications from Public Authority Mun. Comm.of VMSS Vadodara despite that the GAD changed their Orders dated 14.11.2006 of File noting Now to be given to an RTI Act 2005 applicants file noting from 2008 BUT all in Vain in Gujarat till date.. My 20 applications are not replied by the Pblic Authority of VMSS Vadodara from December 2005 to date. Rather getting threatsto be killed. This Mr. Modiji Gujarat State,=====The DAD Changed their GR dated 14.11.2006 to give file notings in 2008 to all RTI Act 2005 with details what to do and what not to do.==BUT all in Vain , THe Public authority VMC Vadodara not giving proper replies to RTI Act 05 applicants Rather the VMC PIO /AA even the PA are giving te threats to Kill Or MURDERED a the RTI Act 05 applicants if they will file more RTI Act 05 applications OR INSISTS FOR REPLIES FROM THEM. THANKS GOD I am not filing any applications any more in Vadodara, as they

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