Should copies of priced publications be provided free to a BPL applicant?
Justice Rajiv Shakdher of the Delhi High Court has issued notice to the Superintendent, Arthur Road Jail of Mumbai, to explain why books on homoeopathy could not be supplied to Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddiqui, the prime accused in 2006 Mumbai serial train blasts. A similar notice was also issued to the Central Council for Research in Homoeopathy (CCRH), seeking its response why an inmate cannot be provided access to the books.
Siddiqui had written to the Delhi High Court seeking directions that to be provided with copies of 45 publications on homoeopathy free of cost in jail for studying. His letter to the Court was converted into a writ petition and the court suggested that the authorities could purchase the publications and put them in jail library for use by the inmates.
Siddiqui had earlier filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act with the CCRH claiming that since he fell in the below poverty line (BPL) category, he should be given this “information”(copies of books on homeopathy) free of cost as per the provisions of the RTI Act. His application was rejected by CCRH on the ground that hard copies of the books could not be provided free under the RTI as they were “priced publications” and providing soft copies could lead to copyright violations.
The Court asked “Why can't they procure it (books)? Are there no funds with Arthur Road Jail?” The matter is likely to come up before the court in August, 2015.