CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Dated the 11th May, 2006
Appellant: Shri Kuldeep Kumar, D-652, Mandir Marg, New Delhi-110001.
Respondents: Shri B.S. Brar, Jt. Commissioner of Police & First Appellate Authority, First Floor, Police Headquarters, I.P. Estate, New Delhi.
Shri Anand Mohan, Dy. Commissioner of Police-cum-PIO, New Delhi
District, New Delhi.
This appeal has been filed by Shri Kuldeep Kumar of D-652, Mandir Marg, New Delhi against the order dated the 2nd February, 06 of the appellate authority, Shri B.S.Brar, JCP, New Delhi Range.
2. The appellant had asked for the following information from the PIO, Delhi Police, Parliament Street through his application dated the 22nd November, 05:-
1) “What is the basis of the Investigating Officer time and again expressed view that theft has been committed by only (SIC) out of three persons?
2) In what manner these three have been examined?
3) Please give date-wise details of each and every investigational step/s overall taken to solve the case; and
4) What is the result/status of this case now?”
3. The parties were called for hearing on 11.05.06. The appellant was present in person. The PIO and the appellate authority were represented by Shri R.S. Ghumman, DCP, Legal Cell, PHQ, New Delhi.
4. It appears from the records that the police authorities had made an attempt to verbally apprise the appellant about the status of the case which was treated by the former as “Untraced.” Sub-Inspector, Shri Ravi Kumar (Investigating Officer) met the appellant at his residence on 17th December, 05 and made available to him “untrace report as well as some information in this case.”
5. The appellant is not satisfied with the information given to him and wishes to have more details from the PIO. The summary of the case already provided to him by the PIO does not satisfy him. He wants to have “date-wise details of each and every investigational step(s) undertaken by the police to examine the suspects and others thoroughly,” which was not provided in spite of his ‘three’ requests. He was informed by the APIO on 20.1.06 that “the complete information under the RTI Act, 05 has already been given to you vide office letter No. 11/DIC-NDD, dated 9.1.06 and there is no more to intimate you in this connection. As the complainant you have been kept amply informed.”
6. The appellate authority upheld the PIO’s action and through his order dated 2.2.06 turned down the appellant’s first appeal.
7. The appellant’s case is that the information supplied to him by the PIO was not corresponding to the points the appellant had made. It was only a para-wise action taken report and not a detailed account of how the case was investigated. The appellant has also complained that the APIO has signed the letters in which his signatures are different all three places. The communication of the APIO did not mention the name and the address of the appellate authority.
8. During the hearing of this appeal, we attempted to elicit from the appellant the exact information he wanted to have from the PIO. From what we understood he already has from the PIO the following:-
1) The ‘untrace report’ dated 22.11.05;
2) A summary of the result of the police investigation in the case of theft in the appellant’s house.
9. The appellant informed us that he was interested in receiving from the police in considerable detail, the manner of their investigating the case which led to the ‘untrace report’ being filed. When asked to be specific about his request, the appellant said that he had already received from the police the names and the identities of the suspects in the case. As a matter of fact, the names of the suspects were supplied by the appellant himself to the police. Additionally, he wished to have the following from the police:-
1) dates on which the police conducted investigation in this case;
2) The methodololgy adopted for investigation;
3) The full text of the depositions given by those interrogated by the police;
4) Any physical verification or connected investigation conducted by the police.
10. Mr. Ghumman, representing the JCP responding to the points made by the appellant pointed out that the information which the appellant has sought forms part of the police case diary. He brought to our notice judgements of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the Mukund Lal Vs Union of India and Mahinder Singh Vs. Union of India in which the apex court allowed the police to treat the Case Diary as a privileged document. Further in Mahabirji Birajman Mandir Vs Prem Narain Shukla, the Hon’ble Allahabad High Court had held, “The case diary contains not only the statements of witnesses recorded under Section 161 CrPC, and the site plan or other documents prepared by the Investigating Officer, but also reports or observations of the Investigating Officer or his superiors. These reports are of a confidential nature and privilege can be claimed thereof. Further, the disclosure of the contents of such reports cannot help any of the parties to the litigation, as the report invariably contains the opinion of such officers and their opinion in inadmissible in evidence.”
11. Further, the DCP, Legal Cell, Shri R.S. Ghumman, pointed out that the information sought by the appellant comes within the exemption of Section 8(1)(g) of the RTI Act. This section allows exemption for information, the disclosure of which would endanger the life and physical safety of any person or identify source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
12. We are in agreement with the appellate authority’s averment that disclosing the details of the case diary will have far reaching consequences in terms of the confidentiality of the information received by the police and may even endanger the physical safety of those examined by the police authorities. However, we also notice that in spite of claiming absolute exemption under Section 8(1)(g), the PIO had voluntarily given some information to the appellant about the status of his case along with the reason as to why it was treated as untraced. In our view, some more information than what has been given to the appellant can also be given to him without unduly compromising the investigation or the witnesses etc. We say this while still recognizing that in all requests for information under RTI Act, especially when they pertain to the law enforcement authorities, it becomes necessary to strike a fine balance between the imperatives of the confidentiality of the sources of information, witness protection and so on, with the right of the citizen to get information. In our view, in this particular case, that balance will not be unduly affected if the following further information is furnished by the PIO to the appellant:-
1. the dates on which the Investigating officer actually investigated the case;
2. Dates on which actions, such as, searches etc., connected with the investigation, were taken;
3. A gist of the depositions of those examined by the police without disclosing names or details which could compromise witness/source confidentiality and safety.
13. We wish to add here that we accept the merit of the police authority’s contention that an open-ended order by this Commission to make available to any information seeker, all the details of investigation into a crime, will have serious implications for law enforcement and will have potentiality for misuse by criminal elements. Each case will, therefore, have to be examined independently, on the basis of facts specific to that case.
In this particular case, we don’t find that the apprehensions of the police about disclosure of information are justified.
14. In view of this, Shri B.S. Brar, appellate authority and Shri Anand Mohan, PIO are instructed to furnish to the appellant the additional information as at paragraph 12 above.
15. The appeal is partly allowed.
(A.N. TIWARI) (PROF. M.M. ANSARI)
INFORMATION COMMISSIONER INFORMATION COMMISSIONER
Authenticated by –
Address of parties:
1. Shri Kuldeep Kumar, D-652, Mandir Marg, New Delhi-110001.
2. Shri B.S. Brar, Jt. Commssioner of Police, PHQs, Delhi-110002.
3. Shri Anand Mohan, PIO & DCP, New Delhi Area, Parliament Street, New Delhi-