Wednesday, June 07, 2017

Govt challenges CIC order for inquiry against Rakesh Maria over ‘misleading’ RTI reply

Times of India: Mumbai: Wednesday, June 07, 2017.
The Bombay high court on Tuesday said it would hear submissions of state Chief Information Commission (CIC) on a plea by the government challenging its order. The state has moved the HC to challenge a state CIC order that had in 2014 directed the government to carry out an inquiry under a commission of inquiry against former Mumbai police chief Rakesh Maria in connection with alleged discrepancies in call records of the 26/11 attack.
Government pleader Abhinandan Vagyani contended before a bench of Justices Naresh Patil and Bharati Dangre that it was challenging also findings of the CIC that information was incomplete, misleading or missing in response to a query under Right to Information (RTI) Act by Vinita Kamte, the widow of additional commissioner of police Ashok Kamte who was killed during the2008 terror attack on Mumbai.
Vagyani said the state was challenging two aspects of the CIC order and said that the information commissioner has no power to order for an inquiry under the commission of inquiry act as well as the findings that information was misleading or incomplete. He argued that the HC cannot go into the facts to see whether the information provided was incomplete and that the CIC order must be set aside completely.
The HC said it would hear the matter on merits on June 15 and asked the state pleader to inform the CIC which is a respondent in the petition about it.
Kamte had sought call data records of the police control room on the night of November 26, 2008 when 10 gunmen entered Mumbai and attacked its major landmarks killing over 160.
According to Vinita, the information given to her by the police was fake and did not match the original call data records submitted by the police before the court which conducted trial in the 26/11 case.
"The commissioner's office should be apprised of such a petition. We must hear their side also while deciding this petition," Justice Patil said and posted the petition for further hearing on June 15.
"At the most, the commissioner can only impose penalty or hold some officer responsible for not providing information to the applicant," Vagyani said.
Maria was then joint commissioner of police (crime branch).
Kamte had under RTI sought call logs of wireless conversations between the control room and Kamte's van in which he was killed along with Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare and encounter specialist Vijay Salaskar.