RTI Activist acquitted by the Court in Bolangir district of Odisha
On 25.11.13, the Court of Additional Session Judge, Bolangir acquitted Sri Kedarnath Nanda, RTI Activist who was falsely charged under section 452, 323, 506, 294 of IPC. Sri Nanda had submitted RTI Application on dated 11.11.2009 to the office of District Social Welfare Officer, Bolangir seeking information about ICDS project, details of interview conducted for appointment of M.P.W., referral service provided to the children, activities of Supervisors etc. The RTI Application was transferred to the PIO, office of Child Development Project Officer (CDPO), Bolangir Sadar to provide the information. On 29.11.13, Sri Baikuntha Swain, Assistant Public Information Officer called Sri Nanda to come to the office to give another copy of RTI Application as it is not visible. On 30.11.13, Sri Nanda visited the office of CDPO, Bolangir. When he reached in the office, the CDPO started rebuking him using abusive language. So he left the office. But when reached in the office, he came to know that CDPO had lodged an FIR against him in local police station. CDPO has stated in her FIR that “Sri Nanda, RTI Applicant abused her in obscene language saying “DARI BITANGI, MU TOTE DEKHINEBI”. He threw the files and Registers, pulled the sarees and gave her a push.” The Town police registered FIR as case No. 323/09 and investigated the matter.
In order to avoid arrest, Sri Nanda got absconding and managed to get bail from the High Court. However, the Police submitted charge sheet against Sri Nanda. The J.M.F.C., Bolangir in GR Case No. 836 of 2009 heard the case and framed charge under sections 294/452/323/506 of IPC and the prosecution examined eight witnesses. Based on the evidence placed before the trial court, it arrived at a conclusion that the prosecution has failed to establish the charges under section 452/323/506 IPC, but the prosecution has been able to establish the charge under section 294 of the IPC against the accused-Sri Nanda who was convicted and sentenced to pay a sum of Rs. 500/- , in default to undergo SI for 15 days.
However, Sri Nanda challenged the judgement of J.M.F.C. in the Court of Session Judge, Bolangir. During cross-examination, the additional Session Judge found that the words like “RANDI BAZARI” was neither mentioned in her FIR, nor stated in her statement under section 161 Cr P C before Inquiry Officer, to which she denied allegation. The court observed:
“ A mere allegation of use of obscene words without mentioning that the words uttered and without contemplating that the same has resulted in the annoyance for the complainant, cannot attract a charge under section 294 IPC”.
So, in absence of evidence of annoyance, the court stated that the findings of the learned trial court for the offence under section 294 of the IPC is not correct and is liable to be set aside.