Friday, June 16, 2017

CIC’s powers challenged in court

The Asian Age: Mumbai: Friday, June 16, 2017.
The Bombay HC has asked the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) to file a reply to the objections raised by the state government against the CIC order on former Mumbai police commissioner Rakesh Maria.
This was after Vinita Kamte, wife of slain top cop Ashok Kamte complained to the CIC that Maria had given her misleading information about her husband’s calls before his death while the actual reasons that she found through RTI were contrary. Kamte had approached the CIC and complained about Maria after which the CIC ordered an enquiry against him.
A division bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Bharti Dhangre heard a petition filed by the state government claiming that the CIC does not have the power to direct the government to initiate an inquiry under the Commission of Inquiry Act against Maria.
In July 2014, the then CIC Ratnakar Gaikwad in a three page order had said that while the information sought by Vinita Kamte was available, there was a deliberate attempt to not share it and cause delays.
Vinita through RTI had sought call logs of wireless conversations between the control room and Kamte’s van in which he was killed on the night of 26/11. She had alleged that the information given by the police was fake and did not match the original call data records submitted before the court where the trial for the 26/11 case was conducted.
Based on her complaint, Gaikwad had ordered an inquiry against Maria who was heading the police control room for some time during the 72-hour siege in November 2008.
However, government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani while filing the petition had said that the CIC’s order was not valid. “At the most, the commissioner can only impose penalty or hold some officer responsible for not providing information to the applicant,” he said.