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Disclosure Of Information Of Case Diary And General Diary/Station House Diary Under RTI Act-2005

Section 8 (1) (h) of the Right to Information Act - 2005 prohibits revelation of such kind of data, which would impede the process of investigation or hinder the police from apprehending or prosecuting a criminal.

Section 8(1) (h) of the Right to Information Act - 2005 states that there must be no disclosure of information that may hinder investigation of a case or arrest and prosecution of the offender. This provision is aimed at balancing transparency through the right to information against the necessity to ensure efficiency in an investigation.

The public authority may be allowed not to provide the information in order to avoid interference with the investigation and apprehension as well as prosecution of the criminals. For example, it is necessary at investigation stage not to disclose such information that will help suspects' becoming aware about their probable arrest and cause them to destroy the evidence or elude the police authorities.

Nevertheless, it should be noted here that Section 8(1)(h) exemptions are not full and without limitation. The aforementioned issues will also involve public interest test that evaluates the need to uncover specific details that safeguard investigations and facilitate convictions.

However, in each such submission made under Section 8(1)(h), every matter contained therein is addressed on a separate and distinct basis. Each matter or piece of information within RTI request should be assessed individually, and the decision to withhold made on the basis of a case-by-case basis evaluation, ensuring that the application of the exemption is tailored, transparent, and subject to accountability and review.

When challenged in Court against non-disclosure of such information under Section 8 (1) (h) of the RTI Act - 2005, this information can be communicated to the Court that will determine if it could adversely affect investigations or prosecutions, and in such circumstances, whether the benefits are worthwhile regarding revealing this piece of information.

Case Diary
A Case Diary, is an elaborate chronicle kept by the investigating/police officer or a person in charge of an individual case having a detailed report about the process, such as actions undertaken, evidence acquired, records collected, line of investigation, name of suspects, name of witnesses etc.

Generally speaking, it is not possible to supply a copy of the Case Diary to an applicant under RTI Act in most cases. Section 8 (1) (h) of RTI Act prohibits the disclosure of information which may hinder the investigation, apprehension and prosecution of suspects. This provision covers the Case Diary which cannot be divulged for it might endanger investigation, divulge confidential material and eventually cause a damage to the case.

The Case Diary documents are basically internal and only used for the purposes of improving the investigation process by making it unbiased and maintaining the rights of the accused. This type of information might not be fit for public consumption until the investigations are completed or at least until the end of the hearings.

The copy of Case Diary should not therefore be provided to the applicant under Right to Information Act-2005 because it may impede the process of investigation or apprehension and prosecution of the offenders.

Notwithstanding, RTI Act allows exemptions, an information can be sought for larger public interest. In limited circumstances, the applicants may have a right of access to information contained in the Case Diary if they are able to provide a cogent public interest which would outweigh the prejudice to the interests of the investigation. For such instances, it will be a local administration or the Public Information Officer (PIO) that will make a decision to disclose relevant facts taking into consideration peculiar situations of a case and its fairness.

General Diary/Station House Diary
General Diary, popularly known as Station House Diary, is a record which records daily happenings in Police Stations. In standard practice, usually copies from the General Diary are given to the person who gave information or complained. In some cases, a copy of the complaint or information is given to the informant or complainant after noting the General Diary number with date thereupon.

A General Diary records every information that someone lodges at a police station. The record helps to indicate that the information/complaints were indeed recorded down by the Police Station for reference purposes. However, it is normally at the discretion of the reporting officer for one to get a copy of the entry in the General Diary, if the same is sensitive or relates to an ongoing investigation.

Giving a copy of the General Diary entry to the complainants helps them make copies and be transparent about their dealings with the other party. Additionally, it aids in creating an audit trail that is useful in preserving accountability and may prove beneficial for future records of reference purposes or even in courts in case of need.

Nevertheless, the police should not disclose some of the details of the General Diary if the investigations are still on-going or based on other legal considerations. The police may, therefore, issue out a redacted or partial version of the entry excluding any details that can be seen as confidential and sensitive or inimical to the interest of investigation.

If supplying a copy of the General Diary or Station House Diary might hamper the investigations of a case including apprehending and/or prosecution of offenders, then the same cannot be issued under Section 8 (1) (h) of RTI Act - 2005 to the applicant.

However, it should be noted that there are some exceptions under the RTI Act - 2005 and one may still seek for information in the larger public interest as well. The applicant can obtain information from General or Station House Diary in case there is a convincing public interest, which outweighs harm to the ongoing investigation. In such instances, a relevant authority shall come up with informed decision depending on the factuality of the matter at hand.

Whether the information made available under RTI Act - 2005 could be used as evidence in Court?
In the occasion that any citizen wishes to utilise the document provided by the PIO (Public Information Officer) for any civil or criminal proceedings pending in Court; they are required to follow the procedures used to obtain certified copies through court process and not by filing application under the Right to Information Act - 2005.

The whole intention behind the Right to Information Act - 2005 is to place at the disposal of the people all information which the government has with him; so that he can develop himself as a truly enlightened citizen rather than to arm him against his opponent in any dispute.

A Public Information Officer simply gives the applicant a copy of the records. This may be a true copy, and yet such a record might be an unauthenticated copy or one that cannot stand guaranteed. The information available is something like news and the Public Information Officer is not a party to such information. He cannot say anything substantive concerning the materials contained in it or even about the accuracy thereof.

The practices of the Courts and tribunals prescribe that the party applying for a certified copy should state whether it is required for purposes of appeal or for reference. No such condition is prescribed for the applicant for information under RTI Act - 2005 to state the reason of requiring such information.

  • Commentary on The Right to Information Act, 2005, N. K. Acharya, Asia Law House, Hyderabad
Written By: Md.Imran Wahab, IPS, IGP, Provisioning, West Bengal
Email: [email protected], Ph no: 9836576565

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