Police Investigation Report – CIC Order

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

Appeal No.CIC/WB/A/2007/00408 dated 23.3.2007
Right to Information Act 2005 – Section 19
Appellant – Shri Ranjit Singh
Respondent – Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)

Facts:By his application of 16.10.2006 Shri Ranjit Singh of Ballabhgarh Haryana applied to Shri R.R. Sahay, SP & CPIO, SCR-II, CBI seeking the following information with regard to investigation in case No. RC14(S) 99-SIV/SIC-II-CBI u/s 302/201:

i) Progress Report of the four I.Os. that what investigation they have carried out after the reference of the matter to CBI and what directions you have given to them.
ii) To supply the copy of statements of public or any other witness, if any, recorded by IOs.
iii) To supply the copy of statement of the accused person if any recorded.
iv) Or any other progress, if any done during the course of investigation.
To this he received a response dated 14.11.06 from Shri R. R. Sahay, SP CBI SCR-II refusing the information as exempt u/s 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act 2005.
Shri Ranjit Singh then moved his first appeal before DIG CBI SCR-II on 24.11.06 upon which he received an order of 10.1.07 from Shri Alok Ranjan, DIG, CBI holding as follows:

The CPIO has rightly claimed exemption u/s 8(1) (h) of RTI Act 2005 as disclosure of this information is likely to impede the process of investigation. The appeal is, therefore, dismissed.
Appellant’s prayer before us is as below:

a) Accept the appeal of the appellant.
b) the impugned order dated 14.11.2006 passed by the
Respondent No. 1 and the impugned order dated 10.1.2007
passed by the Respondent No.2 may kindly be set aside.
c) directing the respondent No 1 to supply the information as
sought for in the application dated 16.10.2006 to the
appellant forthwith.
d) Any other order/relief which the Hon’ble Commission may
deemed fit and proper in the facts and circumstances of the case.
In his response to the appeal notice, Shri Alok Ranjan DIG, CBI has, after a
detailed discussion on the merits of the Criminal case regarding which
information has been sought, concluded with the following prayer:
Since this matter is sub judice in the Court of law and the
investigation of this case is still going on, the appellant has got
every opportunity to approach the Ld. Trial court and place his
request there. The case is still under investigation, hence the
exemptions sought by CPIO u/s 8(1) (h) of RTI Act, 2005 is
justified.
The appeal was heard on 20.6.’08. The following appeared:
Appellant
Shri Ranjit Singh

Respondents
Shri Subhash Kundu, Inspector CBI

Shri Subhash Kundu, representing respondents, submitted that both CPIO
and Appellate Authority were unable to attend and requested a date after 7.7.08.
While appellant Shri Ranjit Singh submitted that he had no objection to a short
adjournment, he wished to bring to our notice the grave injustice that has been
done to him by the Department. This hearing was, therefore, adjourned to
17.7.2008 at 10.30 a.m. However, the attention of respondents was invited to
the ruling of Hon’ble Ravinder Bhat, J. in W.P. 3114/2007 – Shri Bhagat Singh
Vs. C.I.C & Ors of High Court of Delhi, as per which convincing and substantive
reasons will have to be submitted if exemption from disclosure is sought u/s 8(1)
(h) of the RTI Act, 2005.
Accordingly, the following appeared before us on 17.7.08:
Appellant
Shri Ranjit Singh

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Respondents
Shri R. R. Sahay SP, CBI, SCR-II
Shri Subhash Kundu, Inspector

Appellant submitted that it has taken nine years for the investigation to be
completed having been registered on 22.1.99. He, therefore, suspects malafide
intent on behalf of the investigating agency in having delayed the result. This was
because in his view, there was heavy police involvement at the level of SP in the
murder of his brother and the police fraternity was therefore anxious to protect
colleagues. He further submitted that he had been in touch with respondents
who had conveyed to him the necessity of interviewing one Shri Bharat Pal in
connection with the investigation. This individual then in prison had in fact been
met with. Appellant, therefore, needed to satisfy himself that the delay in
investigation was justified and that there was in fact no attempt to cover up
suspicion as that which prompted the Hon’ble High Court to order reinvestigation.
CPIO Shri R.R. Sahay, SP, CBI submitted that the investigation had not continued
for nine years, but the ongoing investigation had commenced only on the orders of High
Court on 11.12.03. This is now nearing closure with the investigation blocked for
reasons shown to us in the file during the hearing but not disclosed. The information
sought by appellant i.e. progress reports, is held in the form of case diaries, disclosure of
which would constitute a serious impediment to the completion of investigation. He
moreover invited our attention to sec. 172 CrPC on the question of disclosure of
information held in case diaries. Section 172 of the Code of Criminal Procedure
relates to case diary of proceedings in investigation. The same is reproduced as
under:
(1) Every police officer making an investigation under this
Chapter shall day by day enter his proceeding in the
investigation in a diary, setting forth the time at which the
information reached him, the time at which he began and
closed his investigation, the place or places visited by him,
and a statement of the circumstances ascertained through
his investigation.

(2) Any Criminal Court may send for the police diaries of a case
under inquiry or trial in such court, and may use such diaries,
not as evidence in the case, but to aid it in such inquiry or
trial.

(3) Neither the accused nor his agents shall be entitled to
call for such diaries, nor shall he or they be entitled to
see them merely because they are referred to by the
court1; but, if they, are used by the police officer who made
them to refresh his memory, or if the court uses them for the
purpose of contradicting such police officer, the provisions of
section 161 or section 145, as the case may be, of the Indian
Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872), shall apply.

DECISION NOTICE

Having heard the arguments and examined the documents, we find that the
question of disclosure hinges on the issue of law i.e. the application of sec. 172
Cr.P.C. to this case. As is clear from the quote from Cr.P.C. above, the
information sought by appellant, if given in the form that is requested, would
amount to violation of sec. 172 Cr.P.C, under which this document is privileged
even with regard to the accused. On the other hand we have before us the
decision of disclosure u/s 8(1) (h) of Hon’ble Ravinder Bhat J. in W.P. No.
3114/2007 – Shri Bhagat Singh Vs. C.I.C & Ors of High Court of Delhi. In this
case Hon’ble Ravinder Bhat, J. has held as follows with specific regard to Sec.8(1) (h):

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11. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the
United Nations in 1948, assured by Article 19, everyone the right 1 Highlight ours
to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any
media, regardless of frontiers. In Secretary Ministry of Information
and Broadcasting, Govt. of India and others vs. Cricket Association
of Bengal and others (1995 (2) SCC 161) the Supreme Court
remarket about this right in the following terms:
The right to freedom of speech and expression includes the
right to receive and impart information. For ensuring the free
speech right of the citizens of this country, it is necessary
that the citizens have the benefit of plurality of views and a
range of opinions on all public issues. A successful
democracy posits an aware citizenry. Diversity of opinions,
views, ideas and ideologies is essential to enable the citizen
to arrive at informed judgment on all issues touching them.
This right to information, was explicitly held to be our fundamental
right under Article 19 (1) (a) of the Constitution of India for the first
time by Justice K. K. Mathew in the State of UP vs. Raj Narain,
(1975) (4) SCC 428. This view was followed by the Supreme Court
on a number of decisions and after public demand; the Right to
Information Act, 2005 was enacted and brought into force.

12. The Act is an effectuation of the Right to freedom of speech
and expression. In an increasingly knowledge based society,
information and access to information holds the key to resources,
benefits and distribution of powers. Information, more than any
other element, is of critical importance participatory democracy. By
one fell stroke, under the Act, the make of procedures and official
barriers that had previously impeded information, has been swept
aside. The citizen and information seekers have, subject to a few
exceptions, an overriding right to be given information on matters in
the possession of the state and public agencies that are covered by
the Act. As is reflected in its preambular paragraphs, the
enactment seeks to promote transparency, arrest corruption and to
hold the government’s and its instrumentalities accountable to the
governed. This spirit of the Act must be borne in mind while
construing the provisions contained therein.

13. Access to information under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule
and exemptions under Section 8, the exception. Section 8 being a
restriction on this fundamental right, must therefore is to be strictly
construed. It should not be interpreted in manner as to shadow the
very right self. Under Section 8, exemption from releasing
information is granted if it would impede the process of
investigation process cannot be a ground for refusal of the
information, the authority withholding information must show
satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information
would hamper the investigation process. Such reasons should be
germane, and the opinion of the process being hampered should
be reasonable and based on some material. Sans this
consideration, section 8(1) (h) and other such provisions would
become the haven for dodging demands for information.

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14. A rights based enactment is akin to a welfare measure, like
the Act, should receive a liberal interpretation. The Contextual
background and history of the Act is such that the exemptions,
outlined in Section 8, relieving the authorities from the obligation to
provide information, constitute restrictions on the exercise of the
rights provided by it. Therefore, such exemption provisions have to
be construed in their terms, there is some authority supporting this
view (See Nathi Devi vs. Radha Devi Gupta 2005 (2) SCC201, B.
R. Kapoor vs. State of Tamil Nadu 2001 (7) SCC 231 and V.
Tulasamma vs. Sesha Reddy 1977 (3) SCC 99). Adopting a
different approach would result in narrowing the rights and
approving a judicially mandated class of restrictions on the rights
under the Act, which is unwarranted.

In this case the Court took serious notice of the two year delay in releasing
of information and the lack of adequate reasoning of the orders of PIO and
appellate authority. S Ravinder Bhat J specifically notes, As held in the
preceding part of the judgment, without a disclosure as to how the investigation
process would be hampered by sharing the materials collected till the notices
were issued to the assessee, the respondents could not have rejected the
request for granting information. The CIC, even after overruling the objection,
should not have imposed the condition that information could be disclosed only
after recovery was made.

In light of the above, and in view of the commitment made before us by
CPIO Shri R.R. Sahay, we direct that the investigating agency make every effort
to complete the investigation, which has already taken excessively long, within
the next two months, if not earlier. Immediately upon conclusion of the
investigation and with the filing of the charge sheet, the information sought and
not exempt u/s 8 sub-section(1) will be provided to appellant Shri Ranjit Singh. If
it is found so exempt reasons for refusal will require to be so spelt out as to
satisfy the need for exemption to a normal law abiding individual. This process
will be completed at any rate by 30.9.2008.

The appeal is thus partly allowed. Announced in the hearing.
Notice of this decision be given free of cost to the parties.
(Wajahat Habibullah)
Chief Information Commissioner
17.7.2008

Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against
application and payment of the charges, prescribed under the Act, to the CPIO
of this Commission.
(Pankaj Shreyaskar)
Joint Registrar
17.7.2008

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