Right to Information – Master key to good governance

When RTI brought culprits to book

Posted by rtiact2005 on October 2, 2006

  • When RTI brought culprits to book

Puneet Nicholas Yadav

Monday, October 02, 2006 00:25 IST


The RTI Act can be tapped not only to get justice for oneself, but also to nail the guilty, as Samudra Devi Passi, 64, a slum dweller from Andheri (E), found.

Passi spent 12 days in prison without knowing why and without being produced in court. When several missives to the MIDC police and the Andheri civil court went unanswered, Passi, with the help of RTI activist Sheeba Nair, filed an application enquiring about her arrest.

Within 20 days, Passi received a reply from the police saying her son had borrowed Rs1.56 lakh from a certain PK Chaudhary and had disappeared soon after. It was for this misdemeanour that she had been taken in for interrogation. This revelation stumped Passi as neither of her two children have ever come to Mumbai, but lived in a village in Uttar Pradesh. Moreover, the description that the police gave her of the person who had taken money from Chaudhary did not match her son’s description.

Nair, therefore, pressed the police to find the actual culprit and explain why Passi had been kept in custody. “After a lot of pressure, the police got to work and within a week, arrested the actual culprits. It was later found out that those involved in the forgery were criminals who had earlier been framed under MCOCA and were absconding. The police made six arrests in just one week,” Nair told DNA.

It is still not clear why the police kept Passi in custody and why it did not file an FIR, said Nair. But the fact that they were instrumental in bringing the culprits to book by merely asking for information is of some consolation, she says.

RTI Act: Salient points

  • You can seek material in any form, including records, memos, e-mails and logbooks, and information relating to a private body accessible by a public authority
  • You cannot seek information relating to national security or information which infringes on the country’s relations with other countries
  • In case the data pertains to a third party, it will be intimated. Its objection to disclosure of information may not be considered
  • You can inspect documents, take notes and ask for copies. If the information is electronically stored, you may ask for it on CDs or floppies
  • The information should be sought in a format prescribed by the act
  • You should get response on your application within a month. If you are not satisfied with the PIO’s reply, you may appeal to a higher authority

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