Afroz Alam Sahil & Kamala Kanta Dash, BeyondHeadlines
Delhi Minority Commission’s (DMC) proposed inquiry into the Batla House Encounter never happened. Neither they ever visited Batla House nor did they talk to anyone from the local community. DMC’s response to the RTI filed by Beyond Headlines revealed all these discouraging details.
DMC had constituted a fact finding committee through a departmental order dated 5 November 2008 setting a deadline of a month to submit the report. The study of the responses to RTIs (filed by Afroz Alam Sahil) by the Lt Governor of Delhi reveals that the Delhi Police did not want such an inquiry to be undertaken by DMC. In a letter to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Office of Lt Governor dated 24 November 2008 cited the legal questions raised by the Commissioner of Police (CP) against the DMC’s proposed fact finding team.
The CP saw DMC’s fact finding team’s objective to assess and analyse the police action inside Flat 108, L-18 Batla House as interference in the police investigation. The CP had asserted that only the police was the statutory body to investigate any offence and mentioned that “it is well settled law as laid down by Hon’ble Supreme Court and Hon’ble High Court that no one can interfere in the (police) investigation.” The CP thought the DMC’s proposal of fact finding team was legally ‘neither permissible nor justifiable.’
One can justify that unwillingness at the higher levels (Delhi Police, Office of the Lt Governor, Ministry of Home Affairs etc.) discouraged the DMC to carry out the proposed inquiry. However, there is no clarity on what the fact finding team did from 5 November 2008 to 24 November 2008. The response of the DMC to the RTI filed (by Mr. Sahil) did not reveal anything new. Nevertheless, the DMC’s response to the request to provide details on the process of appointment of the fact finding committee was a crude joke on the ethos of the RTI Act. The DMC mentioned that as per the section 8 (b) & (h) of the RTI Act-2005, which allows the authority to withhold information if prohibited by a tribunal or court; or the reply may interfere in any on going investigation, respectively. Providing information on the selection process of the fact finding team neither was prohibited by any court nor was it going to interfere in the investigation of the DMC. It is comical that when there was no investigation ever conducted, DMC thought sharing information on the process of selection of the Fact Finding Team would interfere in the investigation!