Friday, July 06, 2018

Thane jail: PIO penalised for ‘pressuring’ prisoner to withdraw RTI plea

The Indian Express: Mumbai: Friday, July 06, 2018.
The Konkan bench of Maharashtra State Information Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 25,000 on the public information officer (PIO) of Thane central jail for “pressuring” a murder undertrial, Vijay Palande, to withdraw an application filed by him under the Right to Information Act. The order was passed by State Information Commissioner Thanksy Francis Thekkekaara on May 30 against R B Jhutale, PIO, Thane jail.
Thane prison superintendent Nitin Waychal said he was not aware of the order.
Palande, convicted by the Bombay High Court last year for the double murders of two men in 1998, is currently lodged in Taloja central jail in Navi Mumbai. He is facing trial for three other murders, one allegedly committed in an Andheri flat of Delhi resident Arunkumar Tikku, one of a film producer, Karankumar Kakkad, and another of an unidentified person.
While he was lodged in Thane central jail in 2017, Palande had filed an application under RTI on April 20, seeking the “egress and ingress recording of CCTV footage of the Kala Pani yard/main gate’s inside area” between 2 pm and 5 pm of the same day. Palande had claimed in his appeal before the First Appellate Authority, the superintendent of the jail, that an undertrial was given “VVIP facility” by being provided emergency police escort from Thane jail to the Thane civil hospital. He claimed that the undertrial was then taken to JJ hospital by the police escort and was subsequently taken in a private vehicle for a birthday party celebration and returned to the jail only the next day.
After Palande’s RTI did not get a response, he filed an appeal before the PIO on May 22, 2017. When he still did not get a response, he filed an appeal before the SIC on September 21, 2017. Palande had written on his application that “I am withdrawing the RTI in duress as told by senior jailors”.
The commission said it was not satisfied with the response given by the jail authorities and directed that a penalty be paid in monthly installments.