By: Dipu Shaw
Photo: Rozy Ibrahim
One thing responsible for fuelling the anger of the people living in the Jamia Nagar area, after the Batla House encounter, was that they remained uninformed about the state of affairs. They did not get any detailed briefing about the incident. The case apparently lacked transparency.
The September 19, police encounter in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar killed two suspected terrorists allegedly involved in Delhi serial blasts, Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajed, along with a police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma.
One and a half months after the case, the truth about the encounter and subsequent arrests that followed it, still remains shrouded in mystery. Even under the Right To Information Act, the various departments that were related to the case have denied to pass on the information. It leaves a suspicion that there is a deliberate attempt to camouflage the truth.
The Jaiprakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of AIIMS has turned down the request to provide information about the post mortem reports saying that the case was related to Medico Legal Records.
They refused to provide information under Sections 8(1) b and 8(1) h of the RTI to a petitioner, Afroz Alam Sahil.
Section 8(1) b of the Right To Information Act – 2005 states that information which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure of which may constitute contempt of court cannot be provided to a RTI petitioner.
Section 8(1) h states that information cannot be provided about matters which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of the offenders.
Both do not apply to the Batla House Encounter case, according to experts. “The arguments given by AIIMS is totally baseless”, says Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer. “No orders or ruling has been passed by the court to withhold information regarding the case. And by no means it can amount to contempt of court”, he adds.
Asked if the information in any way could impede the process of investigation, the seasoned lawyer says, “What does it have to do with the investigations?”
The Delhi police
The Delhi Police has also tried to evade questions on the issue. It prefers to answer only three out of the six questions asked in a RTI petition in connection with the encounter and subsequent arrests. The answers too are only denials instead of information.
It declined to provide the post mortem report of the deceased in the case citing section 8(1)h of the RTI Act-05 as AIIMS had done. Interestingly, the Office of the Dy. Commissioner of Police, Crime, Delhi, makes no mention of the other questions asked in the petition. The petitioner had also asked to provide the number of people arrested in connection to the serial blasts in the capital on September 13 and the places from where they were arrested. In addition, it was asked if the police have evidence against those who have been arrested. The Delhi police did not feel it was necessary to answer these questions.
According to the National Human Rights Commission, so far 2560 cases of police encounter/alleged fake encounter has come up before it. The Commission has so far granted compensation in sixteen cases of police encounter/alleged fake encounter. The statistics adds to the suspicion of the people. The Delhi Police has not done anything substantial to alleviate doubts from the minds of the people of the community. Poor reporting and confusion on the part of journalists has also helped the cause of doubts and distrust.
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