When a magistrate almost took RTI route to get answershttps://indianexpress.com/article/india/india-others/when-a-magistrate-almost-took-rti-route-to-get-answers/

When a magistrate almost took RTI route to get answers

Baffled over lack of clarity on the circumstances under which police arrest such accused and even file chargesheets without arresting them,Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kiran Bansal wondered if she,being a citizen of India,should file a RTI application to get such information from the police.

How many FIRs were lodged in the last one year under the Delhi Prevention of Defacement of Property Act? In how many FIRs were the accused politicians? And how many of them were arrested for blemishing public structures by putting up posters,banners and hoardings during election campaigning?

Do these sound like queries from an application filed under the Right To Information (RTI) Act? Well,almost.

Baffled over lack of clarity on the circumstances under which police arrest such accused and even file chargesheets without arresting them,Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kiran Bansal wondered if she,being a citizen of India,should file a RTI application to get such information from the police.

When a police officer failed to her of any clear policy in this regard,she wondered if this “discretion” was being used in “special cases” where people,accused of defacing properties,were leaders of political parties.

Advertising

The officer had filed a chargesheet in a case naming,among others,Congress leader Geeta Sharma and her husband Manoj Sharma as accused under the Defacement of Property Act over posters pasted ahead of the MCD elections.

As per the FIR lodged at the Madhu Vihar police station,two posters were found pasted on water tanks near Ganesh Apartments in I P Extension on

April 6,eight days before the MCD elections. Geeta Sharma went on to win and is councillor from IP Extension.

“In the present court,chargesheet pertaining to the above Act of the entire East District are being filed and this court has come across many instances wherein sometimes the chargesheet is filed after the arrest of the accused and sometimes without arrest of the accused. It is also felt that in most of the cases where the chargesheet is filed without arrest of the accused,the accused persons are influential persons and posters and banners are of political parties,” ACMM Bansal said.

She went on to compile a list of seven questions for the area DCP. These queries included those on number of defacement cases between April 1,2011 and March 31,2012,instances where politicians were involved,and on the decision to file chargesheets without arresting them.

ACMM Bansal said because she was a judicial officer,she could get all the information without resorting to the RTI Act.

“The undersigned felt that being a citizen of India and also an ACMM,it was the onerous duty of the court to take up the matter on the official side…”She had a copy of the order sent to the DCP,East for collection of data regarding her queries,its compilation and submission in court by the last week of June.