In a recent order, the Bombay high court questioned the Maharashtra police’s act of making available the details of its station diary to an accused, citing compulsions under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Justice Sadhana Jadhav questioned whether the case and station diaries of any police station could be termed as public documents and be made available to accused persons. She also asked if this practice does not hinder the police’s investigations.
Justice Jadhav was hearing a bail plea filed by a city resident Ajit Apraj who is facing charges of wrongful confinement and kidnapping. He had approached HC in November 2015 after his bail plea was rejected by the sessions court. In the last hearing on January 12, however, Apraj sought HC’s permission to withdraw his plea and approach the sessions court again stating that a reply to his RTI query had revealed new information that proved to be in his favour.
Apraj said that in his RTI query, he had sought details of the station diary of the Aarey police station “to ascertain the manner and mode of the investigation carried out” in his case. He said that the Aarey police “had obliged and had given a copy of the station diary.”
At this Justice Jadhav pointed out that there existed a provision under Section 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act that exempted disclosure of such information that could “impede the process of investigations, or the apprehension/prosecution of offenders.”
The additional public prosecutor told the court that a circular had been issued by the deputy commissioner of police (DCP) “issuing an administrative order that such information can be shared with the accused persons.”
Justice Jadhav, however, observed that the DCP’s circular was only an administrative order while the provision under the RTI Act, as well as the one for bail under the Code of Criminal Procedure were statutory provisions.
Thus, while she allowed Apraj’s plea for approaching the session court, Justice Jadhav directed the state to file an affidavit clarifying its stand on whether “any administrative order could be passed in contravention of the mandatory statutory provisions under Code of Criminal Procedure .”