Copy of charge sheet regarding cases filed by appellant’s wife against him was denied under Delhi Distrcit court RTI Rules - CIC: chargesheet is a public document; citizen has a right to know about the accusation made by the state against an individual
Copy of charge sheet regarding cases filed by appellant’s wife against him was denied under Delhi Distrcit court RTI Rules - CIC: chargesheet is a public document, citizen has a right to know about how & what kind of accusation was made by the state against an individual; provide the charge sheet after separating unnecessary and unrelated details of evidence
1. The Appellant through his RTI application dated 01.09.2013 had sought for information on 4 Points with respect to cases filed by his wife against him in Nanakpura Police station pursuant to which the Police had filed chargesheet before the MM Viz i) Copy of the charge-sheet filed by Nanakpura Police ii) copy of all the exhibits/annexures along with the charge-sheet iii) the next date of hearing which is fixed by the MM. PIO Vide his letter dated 10.09.2013 stated that the information sought could not be furnished as per Delhi Distrcit court Rules (RTI rules). Being unsatisfied with the information furnished, the appellant had approached the Commission in first appeal dated 10.10.2013. Claiming non-furnishing of the information sought, the appellant has approached the Commission in Second Appeal.
2. The appellant made his submissions through video conference from Bangalore. The Public Authority is not represented by any officer. The appellant has submitted that he is not asking for the copy of the judicial proceedings. He is only asking the copies of charge sheet and the supporting documents on which the charges are relied upon. He requested the Police Station, Nanakpura PS, New Delhi, but they dodged the matter saying that the case is under investigation and denied the same. When they completed the investigation, they replied that all the documents were submitted to the Court and did not supply the desired information. He has also quoted the CIC orders and the Supreme Court rulings on this issue. The Commission advised him to email all his citations/rulings and submissions to the Commission.
3. The Commission is of the view that the appellant being the accused, he has the right to get the required documents even other wise. But he cannot use RTI Act for getting the current Judicial proceedings against him in the court, till the final judgement in his case through RTI. The Commission is aware of the ruling of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in Girish Ramachandra Deshpande, in this regard.
4. The Commission in Usha Kant Asiwal v.Directorate of Vigilance, GNCTD (CIC/DS/A/2013/001754SA) observed that charge-sheet is a public document and can be given. Operative part of case is as under (Para 3234);
32 The charge sheet is just like a file or record held by the investigating officer, or public authority or court of law. As per the RTI Act, any information held by the public authority can be accessed by the citizen subject to the exceptions provided under Section 8. Because the charge-sheet contains the evidence which need to be adduced in the court of law, there is a possibility of opening up many details which could be personal or private or confidential. If the allegation requires to be proved by call data, the charge sheet refers to sheets of call data, which surely contain call details unrelated to allegation. That could be private information need to be protected. Hence each charge sheet has to be separately examined and only after separating unnecessary and unrelated details of evidence, and only required and permissible information out of charge-sheet should be disclosed. Thus Charge-sheet can neither be prohibited enbloc from disclosure nor disclosed totally. Chargesheet is a document held by concerned authority, which has to examine disclosable aspects vis-a-vis Section 8 and 9 of the RTI Act and then decide the case.
33. On the perusal of the RTI application, the Commission has found that the information sought by the applicant are the part and parcel of the information contain in the charge-sheet prepared after the completion of the investigation under section 173 of Cr. P. C. The purpose of the appellant will be served if the copy of the same would be provided to the appellant. The respondent authority also agreed to provide the copy of charge sheet. Although the prosecution is still going on but the respondent authority has failed to prove that how the disclosure of charge sheet will impede the process of prosecution, the copy of charge sheet is not hit by exemption Section 8(1)(j). Even assuming that it might warrant invocation of this exemption, general overriding condition of public interest as prescribed under Section 8(2) Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923) nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interest in disclosure outweighs the harm to the protected interests. as discussed above mandates disclosure. The public character of charge-sheet as a public document is further strengthened by the Right to Information Act, 2005. The citizen of this country has a right to know about how and what kind of accusation was made by the state against an individual by charge sheet.
34. Considering the provisions of Cr.P.C., Evidence Act, RTI Act, erudite judicial pronouncements, certain transparency practices in CVC, facts and circumstances of the case and contentions raised, the Commission holds that the charge sheet is a public document and it shall be disclosed subject to other restrictions provided under RTI Act. There cannot be a general hard and fast rule that every charge-sheet could be disclosed or should not be. Each RTI request for copy of Charge-sheet required to be examined and only permissible part should be given. The Commission, hence, directs the respondent to examine the content of charge-sheet and to provide appellant the copy of those portions of charge-sheet, which would answer the queries raised by appellant in his RTI application, within 3 weeks from the date of receipt of the order.
The Commission, therefore, directs the Public Authority to supply a copy of the charge sheet along with the supporting documents mentioned therein, by collecting the costs from the appellant, within one month from the date of receipt of this order. The appeal is disposed of.
(M. Sridhar Acharyulu)
Citation: Sh. Vijay Prakash Gupta v. Dwaraka Court in File No.CIC/SA/A/2014/000319