Nearly three months after the Delhi High Court put a prohibition on making public the postmortem reports of the people killed in the Batla House encounter last year, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) to hand them over to an RTI applicant.
The CIC’s directive, clearly distinct from the court’s views, was based on the fact that AIIMS could not explain how the disclosure could hinder the course of investigations in the case anymore.
All that the AIIMS could put forth in their argument was that the earlier CIC decision has been stayed by the High Court, said the Information Commissioner Annapurna Dixit, allowing the plea of Afroz Alam Sahil.
The Special Cell’s encounter at L-18, Batla House, in South Delhi on September 19, had left two serial blasts suspects — Mohammed Atif Amin and Sajid — and Inspector Mohan Chand Sharma dead.
Acting on a petition by well-known lawyer Prashant Bhushan, the CIC had on March 9 directed the Delhi Police to hand over within 10 days the postmortem reports of those gunned down in the encounter, including that of slain officer Sharma.
The police, however, challenged the order in the High Court, which stayed the CIC’s order after agreeing with the argument that a disclosure at the stage when they were yet to arrest a few absconding accused and collect other evidence, could dent their efforts in the cases related to the blasts that shook Delhi on September 13 last year.
In a separate petition filed last September soon after the encounter, Sahil had requested the CIC to direct the AIIMS Trauma Centre, where the postmortems were conducted, to give him the reports along with some other related information.
As the AIIMS refused to part with the information citing the confidentiality clause of the RTI Act, Sahil filed appeals against the same with the CIC in October.
Refusing to buy their arguments, Information Commissioner, Dixit, also cited a portion of the earlier decision of the CIC in the matter that read, “The FIR in this particular case has already been exposed to much publicity and the postmortem reports are now irrevocable. Their disclosure could, in no way, impede the process of investigation or prosecution.”
Lending credence to these observations, the CIC then ordered the AIIMS to hand over the postmortem reports to Sahil. The directive came with the sole rider that only those parts could be kept away from the applicant which are allowed to be exempted under the confidentiality clause of the RTI Act.
Meanwhile, the trial court, hearing the Batla House encounter case, declared Ariz Khan and Shahzad Ahmed proclaimed offenders on Friday as they continue to remain absconding.
The two had allegedly managed to escape after the encounter.