Baramullah Admin Refuses Information on Killing of Pattan Youth

Riyaz Ul Khaliq

KL NEWS NETWORK

SRINAGAR

Manan Bukhari

The district administration Baramullah has refused to divulge details regarding the killing of a youth in the district early this year.

In response to RTI Application filed by Mannan Bukhari, Head Human Rights Division Hurriyat (m), the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Pattan and Additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla have refused to provide information regarding the killing of a youth namely Farooq Ahmad Bhat of Palhallan Pattan on 9 February 2015, in forces firing.

The application dated 11- 04 -2015 was filed by Mannan Bukhari before Public Information Officer, Office of the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla, seeking this information:

           i)                    Clear Photo Copy of  the Magisterial Enquiry Report
ii)                   Clear Photo Copy of the Post Mortem  Report.

        iii)                 Clear Photo Copy of the Inquest Proceedings Report.

        iv)                 Clear Photo Copy of the Ballistic Expert Report

        v)                  Clear Photo Copy of the FIR.

The Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Pattan  through his response dated 01-05-2015 addressed to the applicant denied information stating, “It is hereby brought to your notice that the information whatever available in this office, sought by you under RTI Act 2009 Dated 11.04.2015 cannot be purveyed to you under the provisions of Section 8 ( clause 1) and sub. section g and h of the Act.”

Following the denial of information, Bukhari filed First Appeal before First Appellate Authority, Office of the Deputy Commissioner Baramulla. The Appellant in his first appeal stated:

“That the Information provided through the aforesaid Communication is vague/wrong and the appellant is aggrieved because of the information sought by the appellant does not fall within the ambit of Section 8 (clause1) and sub. section (g) & (h) of the Right to Information Act, as has been shown to have fallen under the aforesaid provisions of law in terms of reply to appellants application, under reply No. No.SDM/ Estt/ptn/2015/209-11 dated 01-05-2015. The appellants shall not be deprived from getting the said information and in order to comprehend it, the aforesaid provisions of the Act are reproduced herein as follows:

Section 8 (1) of the Act: Notwithstanding anything contained in the Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen,-

Clause(g): information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders:

Clause(h): cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers:

Provided that the decisions of Council of Ministers, the reasons thereof, and the material on the basis of which the decisions were taken shall be made public after the decision has been taken, and the matter is complete, or over:

Provided further that those matters which come under the exemptions specified in this section shall not be disclosed.

It is submitted that the information sought as such can in no way impede the investigation of the case or prosecution of the offenders. In order to append explanation to it, the appellant did not want the report of the investigation by police or report of the proceedings of the case, hence, the information sought does not fall within the exception clause, simply the appellant intended to get the report of Magisterial Enquiry etc as reflected in the appellants application. More so, it is not about the cabinet papers including records of deliberations of the Council of Ministers, Secretaries and other officers, but simply the Judicial Information which can be revealed or given to any person who comes up with the application under RTI Act. Hence the denial of providing the said information amounts to the violation of principles of natural justice, as the appellant has been condemned unheard”.

After filing First Appeal a communication dated 06-06-2015 was sent to the applicant from Additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla (FAA), through which Sub- Divisional Magistrate, Pattan (Respondent) was directed to  furnish the counter statement before the FAA within seven days and one copy of this counter statement was to be furnished to the appellant also.

In accordance to the Rule -8 (iv) of the RTI Act, 2012 the Sub- Divisional Magistrate, Pattan (respondent) was directed to appear before FAA on 23-06-2015 for the hearing.

On 30-06-2015 the Appellant received a communication along with the copy of the order from the Office of the Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Pattan through which the appellant came to know that the (FAA) Additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla has disposed off the first Appeal of the appellant and has passed an order in favour of the  Sub- Divisional Magistrate, Pattan without hearing the appellant and  in clear violations of the RTI Act.

In reference to Additional Deputy Commissioner Baramulla’s order the Sub- Divisional Magistrate, Pattan through communication dated 27-06-2015, states:

“ …….. Wherein the undersigned has been asked to dispose off your appeal in light of  RTI Act 2009, particularly as per the sections 8 and sub section (1) clause (f ), whatever information available in this office with respect to your application could not be provided to you.

Further refer to this office’s earlier communication No…………..dated 23-06-2015, the clauses mentioned under section 8 (Sub section 1) i.e  g and h  were according to RTI act 2005 which due to a clerical mistake were written under as RTI act 2009.”

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