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Mumbai train blast case: Information compromises country's security, can't be disclosed under RTI, says Delhi HC
New Delhi: Delhi High court on Friday dismissed the appeal of Ehtesham Quubddin Siddiqui, a death row convict in the 2006 Mumbai Train blast case against the Central Information Commission's order.
Siddiqui sought the report/dossier prepared by the Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad (ATS) and Andhra Pradesh Government in relation to the investigation of the bomb blast. While dismissing the petition, the High Court said that reports and dossiers by intelligence authorities, cannot be disclosed under RTI Act, especially if they compromise the sovereignty and integrity of the country.
The information was denied in view of exemption under section 8(1)A and section 24 of the RTI Act. Maharashtra government had declared a security organisation under section 24 of the Act.
Justice Prathiba M Singh said that in view of sections 8(1)A and 24 of the RTI Act, the order of CIC can not be faulted.
Justice Singh said, "The major public interest is in protecting the safety and security of the public and not in disclosing such reports.
The bench noted the submission of advocate Rahul Sharma who opposed the petition. He submitted that the petitioner has been convicted in a terror case in which 200 people died and hundreds were injured.
It is not a case of simple crime. It is a case in which 15-20 people are running away and yet to be arrested. Some of them are foreign nationals. The investigation is going on, Rahul Sharma submitted.
He also submitted that the petitioner sought the report and dossiers which also contained information regarding other accused. This information can't be placed in the public domain.
The information sought was exempted under sections 8(1)A and 24 of the RTI Act. The information related to the investigation conducted by the ATS Maharashtra can't be disclosed as it is a protected organization under section 24 of the Act.
On the other hand, it was submitted by the petitioner's counsel that the petitioner was falsely implicated and convicted in the case. His death reference is pending before the Bombay High court.
Petitioner's counsel Arpit Bhargava also submitted that the information sought is required for the purpose of what evidence was collected against the petitioner.
The dissemination of this information is also in the larger public interest, Bhargav argued.
His application was rejected by the CPIO of the Ministry of Home affairs. The order was upheld by the appellate authority. The appeal was also dismissed by the CIC.
However, the High Court has directed the superintendent of Nagpur central jail to provide the petitioner with books he has sought under the RTI within four weeks either online or hard copy.
He submitted that he is a person below the poverty line ( BPL) being a death row convict. He is in jail for a long time.
Earlier, the predecessor bench of justice Yashwant Varma in September 2022 dismissed the petition seeking information related to a 2007 notification empowering the Secretaries of States government to sanction prosecution for offences under the Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA). The information was declined being exempted under RTI Act.
The petitioner was arrested in July 2006 in connection with the 7/11 Mumbai Train Blast case by Maharashtra Anti Terrorist Squad Mumbai. He was charge-sheeted on November 30, 2006, for various offences under sections 10 and 13 of UAPA.
On June 23, 2017, his RTI application was rejected under Section 8 (1)(a) of the RTI Act stating that the information sought by the applicant relates to the subject of Unlawful association which relates to the security, sovereignty and integrity of India and disclosure of the sought information may prejudicially affect the sovereignty, integrity and security of the State. (ANI)