Even the accused has a right to know and the victim’s family can seek information about ongoing investigations, the Central Information Commission has ruled, in two different cases.
In the first case, Nahar Singh, against whom Delhi Police had initiated externment proceeding, wanted to know the basis on which the externment process was started. The police refused information pleading that revealing such information may lead to interference with on-going magisterial proceedings.
Singh, however, stated that mala-fide externment proceeding has disturbed his family’s life and peace. "The person who is the object of inquiry, suffers anxiety, financial loss and loss of reputation and is mentally broken by the time the proceedings reach any finality," Singh told CIC. He sought information so that he is saved from the usual consequences of long drawn out proceedings by initiating appropriate steps to defend and protect himself.
In his decision, Information Commission AN Tiwari said that report of lower police officers to their superiors on his externment should be shared with the accused in normal course and is not barred from disclosing under Section 8 (1) of the Right to Information Act. However, the police can protect the interests of witnesses or any other person, whose name is there in the report, by not providing them to the accused, Tiwari said, while asking Delhi Police to provide information to Singh within two weeks.
In the second case, Mangto Ram, had sought information about the investigations into death of his daughter under unexplained circumstances. Delhi Police refused information citing section 8 (1)(h) of the RTI Act that exempts sharing of information that can impede the outcome of ongoing investigations.
Information Commission AN Tiwari differed with the police and said the exception to the section can be applied as the victim’s family doesn't want any obstacles in the on going investigations. "Far from impeding the investigation, taking the appellant into confidence will give a positive direction to the investigation and enable the authorities to swiftly reach at the truth," Tiwari, said in his order.
He also directed the police to provide status of the investigation to the appellant within three weeks.