Thursday, April 3, 2008

Delhi police want money to give information on missing kids to an RTI activist

The Delhi Police have demanded Rs 25,000 from an RTI applicant to furnish information about the number of missing children in two districts.

The then Deputy Commissioner of Police (West), Robin Hibu, and Shalini Singh, DCP, (South West) asked RTI applicant Najma Khan to provide Rs 25,000 as operational costs to be incurred in collecting the information.

Najma, who works for the NGO, Nav Srishti, filed an RTI application with the Delhi police seeking details of missing and kidnapped children under the age 18, those recovered and the convictions in such cases in each police district between September 1, 2004 and August 31, 2007. While ten districts provided the information forthwith, the two DCPs demanded Rs 25,000 towards manpower expenditure in getting the data collected.

Expenses

The break up for the demand was as follows: Rs 773 for one manpower day of a sub inspector, Rs 451 for engaging a head constable for a day and Rs 425 per day each for 13 constables for two days totalling Rs 12,274 for each district.

Both the districts Public Information Officers, on behalf of Hibu and Singh, mentioned in their letter that the information asked in the RTI is lengthy and time consuming to compile and a considerable strength of manpower from all ranks in the police station will be utilized to collect the same.

DCP Singh justified the demand saying, "Section 7(3) of the RTI Act provides for expenses on the collection of any data for which utilisation of manpower is required for research purposes."


Public Info

Confused over the reason given for the demand, Reena Banerjee of Nav Srishti said they had not asked for classified data, instead it was public information that they were seeking. "It is wrong that the police are asking for money to furnish data about missing children which should be made public and be easily available.

When other districts can cooperate why only two districts demanded money for the same work? What are the reasons behind the demand? If such huge sums of money were to be demanded, nobody would be able to exercise the right to seek information," Reena said.

Unethical

Santosh Jha, an RTI activist, said asking money for utilisation of manpower is unethical and a clear violation of the RTI law. He said, "Under section 4 of the RTI Act, every information should be made public by the department concerned. It is the duty of the police to maintain such data and make in public whenever asked for.

According to RTI law no one can ask for money for manpower utilisation, one can only charge for expenses on stationary and other office work. If somebody demands money then an applicant can move to Central Information Commission."

Information about missing children is not at all classified and must be part of police records, maintenance of which requires no research, Jha said.

"The police is misleading the public and trying to discourage RTI applicants," he added.
He elaborated saying he sought information regarding missing children in the wake of Nithari killings.

By Shashank Shekhar

Source: http://www.mynews.in/fullstory.aspx?storyid=3489#


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