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Ms. Bobby Anand (Advocate)     11 June 2008

5 months after RTI, women’s commission says plea ‘not in public interest’

The National Commission For Women (NCW) has refused to answer questions filed under the Right to Information Act on the tour details of its members.

The application wanted to know if tours were undertaken by members — to “check out” several complaints that had alerted the Commission about children going missing in Nithari. These complaints had been filed a year before the mass murders were actually discovered in December, 2006.

The RTI was filed by Commodore (Retired) Lokesh Batra, who has worked closely on the Nithari murders. The Commission's answer was: the information sought was "cumbersome" and did not "appear to serve any public purpose". The reply came close to five months after the application was filed — that too, after the Central Information Commission intervened in the matter three months ago.

Batra justified his interest: "Several replies by the Commission — while answering earlier RTI applications — seemed disinterested in exploring the cases of children going missing in Nithari. I want to know the details of tours undertaken in the one year leading to the discovery of the Nithari murders. Several complaints had been sent to the Commission on missing children in this period."

The NCW, as reported by Newsline in December, 2007, had not answered letters sent to it by activists Usha Thakur and Lokesh Batra in 2005, when six children had gone missing from the Noida village. Batra said, "If they had acted on these letters, many innocent lives would have been saved."

On the other hand, NCW Chairperson Girija Vyas said, "I am not aware what the administration has said in the reply. We advise members to work hard on details and any information can be sought by meeting us too."

While Batra was gunning to know about tour details, he had also asked about the designations of Commission members, and the tenures. Instead of answering directly, the Commission in its reply, pointed at other sources that might give him this information. The answer lists a website and a cyber address that would satisfy his queries.

This is a clear violation of the Act, Batra said, adding, "the Commission has also not mentioned any reason why it has denied me the information".

Similar rebuffs have been noticed in the past, when several government institutions had been reluctant to part with "personal information". A judgment on a case in 2005, after the Central Forensic Science Laboratory (CFSL) withheld information, had ruled against the laboratory. The Central Information Commissioner had allowed the appeal and directed the CFSL to provide information on leave details sought. However, the CIC's order in this case has been ignored by the NCW.


 2 Replies

Rajesh Kumar (Advocate)     12 June 2008

Well, Right to Information Act is very clear- information cannot be denied on the grounds taken by women commission.

The applicant must file complaint under Section 20 of the Act to the Central Information Commission. 

shamit sanyal (advocate)     13 July 2008

only adding few lines in addition One aggrieved can prefer an appeal ,even if the 1st appeal is turned down one will have to seek relief under second appeal .section 19 of the rti act deals with such provision.

Section 20 deals with penaltiesThere after one can knock the courts door

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