VINITA DESHMUKH | 16/01/2013 0, Moneylife
Being denied of information and humiliated during the hearing of his case on 10th January at the State Information Commission office, Sanskrit scholar and RTI activist Dr Subedar Surinder Sharma turned to the State Human Rights Commission to get justice
Jammu-based soldier, Subedar Surinder Sharma was filled with grief when his sister, in her thirties, died under mysterious circumstances on 29 January 2011. Agitated over the fact that the police recorded the case as ‘suicide’ and not ‘murder’ despite alleged proof in the forensic laboratory’s autopsy report, Sharma invoked the RTI (Right to Information) Act. He asked for inspection of documents of all records pertaining to autopsy as well as “chain of custody” of autopsy samples from the Government Medical College and Hospital in Jammu. He had also requested permission of assistance of his friend Deepak Sharma to be present during inspection as he is not well versed with English—this soldier though is a Sanskrit scholar having done his PhD in it.
The public information officer (PIO) declined information stating he does not have the copy of the autopsy report. Sharma then filed the first appeal but was informed by the First Appellate Authority that they indeed have the copy of the autopsy report but cannot allow inspection as records of other patients would also be revealed. Surinder Sharma, appealed to the FAA that he was only interested in his sister’s report but was denied information.
Hence, he appealed to the State Information Commissioner where his case was pending until he was asked to be present for hearing on 4 January 2013 at the Chief State Information Commission’s office where the case was to be heard.
His friend, Deepak Sharma also filed a separate RTI application on 29 April 2011 asking for the “crime scene observation report” of Surinder Sharma’s sister, from the PIO of the Office of Forensic Laboratory, Jammu. On 26 May 2011, he was denied information under the pretext of Section 8. He filed an appeal with the FAA on 12 July 2011 but was denied information. Deepak Sharma then filed a complaint with the State Information Commission but by a decision on 4 January 2012, the Information Commissioner dismissed the petition stating that the applicant has already received the information from the PIO. States Deepak Sharma, “the Information Commissioner without giving me a notice or hearing my side, gave such an order.” Aggrieved at this “lie, as I had never received the information”, he asked for a review application. Very strangely, the SIC sent back the application to the FAA who once again turned down his request. Finally, Surinder Sharma under media glare, wrote a RTI application with his own blood on 12 October 2012 and submitted it to the PIO. It was then that the SIC took it seriously and the PIO was compelled to give a copy of report.
However, Deepak Sharma’s hearing at the Chief State Information Commissioner’s office on 10 January last week turned ugly. Both the RTI applicants are crying foul over the humiliation meted to them by GR Sufi, Chief State Information Commissioner of Jammu and Kashmir. States Surinder Sharma, “when we sat on the chairs, Mr Sufi asked us to vacate our chairs, saying it is not meant for people like us. He also humiliated us and threatened us that no appeal of ours would be entertained and that any case can be filed against us. He also took objection to my presence to assist Mr Surendra. He said that I am not an advocate. When I brought to his notice that the RTI Act allows assistance from any citizen, not necessarily a lawyer, he was very rude. Shocked at the arrogance we have made a petition to the State Human Rights Commission, to conduct a probe against Mr Sufi for his behavior.”
Chandigarh-based Surendera M. Bhanot, coordinator RTIFED who is campaigning against the arrogance of various information commissioners writes in Humjanenge blog, “Such behaviour of the Information Commissioners has brought the institution of Information Commissions to disrepute. This has opened a new front for the information seeker to approach the Central/State Human Right Commissions. Exactly so, one information seeker has really invoked this right.”
Lately, the information commissioners have come under ire for killing the RTI Act through their insipid orders. Now, it is a bit more serious as one of their fraternity members is alleged of misconduct towards RTI applicants.
|Copy of the letter addressed to the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission
Surinder Sharma & Deepak Sharma, R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C, Jeevan Nagar, Jammu (Complainants)
Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information
Commission, Wazarat Road, Jammu (Respondent)
Sub: Complaint of human rights violation and serious breach of constitutional rightof the complainants by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.
It is submitted with deep grief and pain that the complainants were humiliated, harassed, threatened to be implicated in false cases and the fundamental rights of Right to Equality before law, Right to Information, Right to a fair and transparent trial in the court of law, Right to life and liberty, Right to live with human dignity, Right to freedom of speech and expression and Right to enter in any public office were violated by Sh. GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, Jammu and Kashmir State Information Commission, Jammu.
Surinder Sharma (complainant no. 1)
Deepak Sharma (Complainant no. 2)
R/o Mandlik Bhawan, 412-C,
Jeevan Nagar, Jammu – 180010
Breach of Human Rights
RTI activist moves SHRC against CIC Sufi
Jammu 14January 2013: A complaint has been filed in the Jammu and Kashmir State Human Rights Commission against GR Sufi, the State Chief Information Commissioner on the allegations that he has humiliated , harassed and violated human right of the complainant.
A complaint dated 14 January 2013 has been filed with the SHRC through its secretary by one Sh Deepak Sharma of Jammu. In the complaint, the complainant has alleged that GR Sufi not only violated the fundamental rights of the complainant, but he has also threatened the victim to implicate him in a false case. It is also submitted in the prayer that CIC has restricted the entry of the complainant in the State Information Commission and had also verbally directed the victim not to file any RTI application with any Public Authority in future.
The three- page complaint further alleged that respondent GR Sufi, State Chief Information Commissioner, did not allow the complainant to remain present in the open court of the Commission during its proceeding on 10 January 2013, in a case titled “Surinder Sharma Vs Govt.Medical College, Jammu”. The complaint further states that the respondent not only asked the complainant to get out of the open court (RTI Commission Court) but also in a very rude manner ordered him to vacate the chair where he was sitting stating that the complainant as an ordinary citizen had no right to sit on chair and only senior officials/bureaucrats deserve to sit on chairs.
The respondent had also asked the victim not to approach the RTI Commission with any complaint/appeal under the RTI Act, as the Commission would not accept/entertain the same.
Prior to this appeal to the State Human Rights Commision , Deepak Sharma had already made a request dated 30 March 2012, with the State Information Commission for videography of all his cases for a fair and transparent proceedings in the commission but till date the Commission has not taken any decision on his letter for videography.
In his prayer, the complainant Deepak Sharma has urged the State Human Rights Commission to conduct an independent probe in this matter and direct the respondent,GR Sufi to honour the fundamental rights of the complainant and also to restrain him from filling any false case against the complainant and also to accept and entertain the appeals under RTI Act and not to restrict the entry of the complainant in the open court of the commission and the office complex of the commission as the complainant as a citizen has fundamental right of right to entry in any public office.
Another RTI activist had also filed an RTI application with the State Information Commission on 10 January 2013, where he has asked the Information Commission for providing the names and designations of the persons who are entitled to sit on chairs installed in the open court of CIC, GR Sufi. He has also asked the total amount spent by Sh. GR Sufi from his own pocket for the purchase of any furniture in the open court.”
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