Disclosure of charge sheet in Sohrabuddin Fake Encounter Case by CBI
The appellant had filed two RTI applications with the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). Vide the first application he sought a copy of the charge sheet filed by the CBI in the Sohrabuddin Fake Encounter Case and the details about the reasons for not complying with the order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) passed earlier for disclosing the said information. In the second application he asked for the details of all the cases which the CBI, Mumbai had investigated between the 2000 and 2011.
In reply to the first application, the Public Information Officer (PIO) informed the appellant that the copy of the charge sheet could not be disclosed since the CBI had approached the Bombay High Court against the order of the CIC and that they had decided to await the orders of the High Court before disclosing the information. No reply was sent to the appellant regarding the second application.
During the hearing, the appellant insisted that the earlier order of the CIC (directing the PIO to provide a copy of the charge sheet in the Sohrabuddin Fake Encounter Case) should have been complied with by the CBI. The respondent argued that the copy of the charge sheet cannot be disclosed since it had already been presented to the trial court and has become a part of the judicial records of that court. He referred to a previous order of CIC [CIC/SM/C/2011/001328 & 1615] and submitted that merely because the CBI still retained a copy of the charge sheet, it was not the rightful owner of that charge sheet and it was the trial court which could decide if it should be disclosed to anyone or not.
View of CIC
Regarding the first application, the Commission noted that the CBI should have complied with the direction unless the High Court had issued a stay in the matter. But giving merit to the arguments of the respondent, the Commission stated that in matters where charge sheet and other records are filed by any investigating agency in a court of law, the copies of those records should be obtained from the relevant court alone and not from the public authority concerned. Observing that the copy of the charge sheet has already been filed, the Commission ruled that it would be appropriate for the appellant to seek a copy of the document from the relevant trial court rather than trying to get it from the CBI.
Regarding the second application, the Commission observed that the CBI had been included in the Second Schedule of the RTI act by a notification issued by the Central Government in June 2011. As per section 24 of the RTI Act, the provisions of the RTI Act would not apply to those organizations which are included in the second schedule except in cases where the information sought relates to allegation of corruption or human rights violation. All RTI applications filed in the CBI after the issue of the above notification would have to be examined in the light of these legal provisions and information will have to be given only when it is established that it relates to allegations of corruption or human rights violation. In the present case, the RTI application had been filed after the issue of the notification and therefore the PIO of the CBI was not obliged to entertain these applications since in neither of these applications the information sought had any relation to allegations of corruption or human rights violation. The Commission noted that despite the fact of CBI being an excluded agency, PIO should have responded to the appellant with an appropriate reply. Under section 20, the Commission issued a show cause notice to the PIO to give reasons as to why penalty should not be imposed on him.
After June, 2011 the CBI is expected to provide the information under RTI Act only if it relates to corruption or human rights violation. In case of the judicial records, the custodian of the records is the court and not the investigating agency.
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/374
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission