Mohd Reyaz Delhi Hardnews
Persistent efforts of RTI activist, Afroz Alam Sahil, finally seems to have paid dividend in the Batla House encounter case. Following Information Commission's directives on June 9, appellate authority of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS), Dr YK Gupta has asked the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Jai Prakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre (JPNATC), Prof MC Misra, to issue autopsy reports of the deceased in the encounter.
But, Afroz is yet to receive a copy of the autopsy report. "AIIMS was directed to furnish information by June 10. But, letter to the JPNAPTC was written after 20 days. Till date, I have not received any report," he said. Incidentally, Afroz, is a student of Jamia Millia Islamia.
The bench of information commissioner, Anupama Dixit, after hearing the response from AIIMS authority on June 9 was not satisfied with the argument as to how the 'disclosure of information at this stage would impede the process of investigation'. It upheld the argument put forward by the appellant that 'the post-mortem reports are now irrevocable'.
It, however, allowed the CPIO to apply Section 10 (1) of the RTI Act to sever those parts of the reports which are exempted from disclosure. This has been done keeping in view the confidentiality of the names of doctors involved, as the case is still pending in the court.
Accordingly, Dr Gupta has written a letter to the CPIO of JPNATC dated June 29, a copy of which is available with Hardnews. In the letter, Gupta has directed the CPIO to 'comply with the orders issued by the Central Information Commission'.
Locals believe that the Batla House Encounter, which occurred on September 19, 2008 was 'fake'. Two alleged Indian Mujahideen terrorists were killed in the operation and Inspector MC Sharma succumbed to injuries in the hospital later that day. Contradicting statements of the police and refusal of the government to order a judicial enquiry has raised doubts on the authenticity of the encounter.
A report released by the Jamia Teachers Solidarity Group had brought to notice many loopholes in the operation and an alleged cover-up later.
Prosecution has consistently denied supplying any information to the defence or making them public, citing clause 8 (1) (h) that says: disclosure may impede the process of investigation.
Eminent lawyer, Prashant Bhushan, who is also the counsel of one of the accused, Ziaur Rehman, had filed a similar petition to the Delhi Police for copies of FIR and autopsy reports. He, too, was denied. Like Afroz, he also had approached the Information Commission.
After hearing the police version, the bench comprising chief information commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, and information commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi, had ordered the public information officer of Delhi Police to provide copies of documents after applying severability clause within 10 days on March 9.
Delhi High Court had, however, stayed the order. Prashant Bhushan is bitter as he pointed out that it's against the National Human Rights Commission's guidelines. "It shows that they are trying to hide something," he told Hardnews. He further added, "It's very difficult for me and other counsels to proceed without exactly knowing what happened on the day."
The next hearing has been fixed for July 20.