July 31, 2010 4:11:40 am
In a verdict that blows away the immunity clause availed by Jammu and Kashmir-based central government organisations like the Indian Army while refusing to disclose information under the RTI Act,the Delhi High Court on Friday ruled that such establishments were not precluded from the transparency law and were obligated to disclose information to the family of those posted in the state.
Directing the Indian Army to hand over court of inquiry,post-mortem and other reports relating to the death of Shaurya Chakra awardee Capt Sumit Kohli to his mother Veena Kohli,the court made it clear that the RTI was not applicable to J&K because the state,due to its peculiar conditions,had to have its separate law for public disclosure.
This,by no stretch of imagination,can mean that where the offices and establishments of the central government,including the Army,are located in the state of J&K,no application can be made under the RTI Act to such offices and establishments under the RTI Act to seek the information held by them. Further,the mere fact that Army personnel are in the state of J&K,does not preclude such personnel,or their relatives,from seeking information concerning themselves through an application made under the RTI Act to the Army, observed Justice S Muralidhar.
The court also allowed another plea by a senior Army officers wife who was allowed by the CIC to have access to reports and statements,apart from the inquiry report,regarding accusations of sexual harassment made by several women Army officers against him.
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The reports,which led to holding former Maj Gen A K Lal guilty of sexually harassing Captain Neha Rawat posted under his command in Ladakh,was demanded by his wife Akansha Lal under the RTI Act.
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