Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Judges need a course in RTI Act, or maybe fundamental rights!

It was horrifying to read the judgment below, where an accused husband was given bail but with the condition that he will not file RTI regarding her wife or her family members (see bold sentence in judgment below).

  BAIL APPLN. 2102/2009
  Through: Mr. Kunal Duggal and Mr. C.M. Verma
  STATE ..... Respondent
  Through: Ms. Fizani Husain, APP.
  ASI Shyamlal Bhardwaj, PS Lajpat Nagar.
  Mr. Ajay Digpal for the complainant.
   O R D E R
  Mediation is reported to have failed.
  The petitioner is the accused in the FIR of offences under Sections
  498A/406/34 of the IPC. He is working as a senior scientist with CSIR. According
  to the complainant wife, she is living separately from petitioner since 26th
  November, 2008. FIR was lodged on 4th June, 2009. The petitioner as well as the
  complainant wife had been married earlier. Each of them has a grown up child
  from the earlier marriage.
  The APP contends that no jewellery has been recovered from the
  petitioner. The counsel for the complainant wife contends that the petitioner is
  not paying any maintenance also. The petitioner had on 12th November, 2009
  before this court paid Rs.50,000/- to the complainant wife. It is further
  contended that the petitioner is harassing the complainant wife and her family.
  In the circumstances aforesaid, it is directed that in the event of
  arrest, the petitioner be released on bail on furnishing security bond of
  Rs.10,000/- to the satisfaction of the arresting officer. The following further
  conditions are agreed by the petitioner:-
  a. That the petitioner shall not file any complaint and/or RTI enquiries qua the
  affairs of the complainant wife or any of her family members.
  b. That the petitioner shall continue to pay a sum of Rs.10,000/- to the
  complainant wife w.e.f. 1st December, 2009 and till the date of decision on the
  application for interim maintenance in maintenance proceedings stated to have
  been separately instituted. The amounts so paid shall be adjusted in the interim
  maintenance if any to which complainant wife is so found entitled. It is
  clarified that the amount of Rs.10,000/- per month offered by petitioner as a
  condition for bail, shall not influence the court where application of
  complainant wife for maintenance is pending.
  c. The petitioner shall not leave Delhi without the permission of IO and shall
  deposit his passport with the IO.
  Copy of this order be given dasti to the counsel for parties.
  JANUARY 18, 2010

Let’s look at it from the following viewpoints:

  1. It is a well accepted principle of law that a person accused of a crime is innocent until proven guilty.  Will the judges curb freedom of RTI if the accused was a powerful person?
  2. Further, Right to Information is a fundamental right derived from Article 19 of Indian constitution, and also considered a fundamental right from various international conventions.  World over, fundamental rights cannot be curtailed except under very special situations of national security and the like.
  3. Here it seems an accused if fit to be granted bail, but he is not fit enough to exercise his fundamental right of RTI.  He can exercise his right to vote, stand for elections, and so on, but only not be able to exercise RTI!  Under what rule can a judge trample upon fundamental right of a citizen, especially considering that no rationale or reason for the order has been given in judgment.
  4. Right to Information grants an Indian citizen to get public information from public authorities.  Such information is already in public domain and no one can be said to be harassed or inconvenienced by disclosure of such public information.  The Right to Information is not right on private information of another person, but on public information which cannot be said to be private property of any person.  Then how can a judge decide that a particular person cannot file for RTI on another person.  The RTI is only on public information.
  5. It seems clear that the judge has tried to cut off the source of information this accused man could use to prove himself innocent.  Read this story about how a man was able to prove his innocence using RTI in a very similar situation where he was accused by his wife in a dowry case.

Our hopes are that other judges will read this blog post and understand that their actions and judgments are being watched by citizens.

1 comment:

  1. anything can happen in India..I don't know what kind of judiciary system are we having..