In a stern order, the Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Union home secretary to produce complete records related to former CRPF IG Rajnish Rai's report on fake encounters by forces.
The order was issued as the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), in spite of two notices from the CIC, failed to produce the records before it.
Mincing no words, the Commission reminded the secretary that it was summoning records under the provisions of the Right To Information (RTI) Act which give it the power of a civil court in summoning any document from a public authority.
"The respondent MHA through Secretary, MHA shall take due notice under Section 18(4) of the RTI Act and no part of the document summoned shall be withheld from the Commission," Information Commissioner Yashovardhan Azad said.
The case pertains to an RTI application seeking a copy of the report on a fake encounter by a joint squad of security forces in Assam in which two persons were killed.
The Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) had cited Section 24 of the RTI Act to deny its disclosure.
The section exempts the force from any disclosure under the RTI except when the information sought relates to allegations of human rights violation.
When the matter reached the Commission, the CRPF claimed the documents were with the Home Ministry.
In spite of two notices from the Commission, the MHA did not send its officials or produce documents sought by the transparency panel.
In his latest order, Azad said the rival contentions of parties cannot be weighed and adjudicated until and unless, the very report which is the subject matter of adjudication is not available with the Commission.
He said it was neither feasible nor pragmatic or judicious to have an opinion over the disclosure of a document without actually knowing the actual contents.
The information commissioner said a "last and final opportunity" has been granted to MHA to produce the enquiry report with the connected files before the Commission.
The Commission shall take a view after examining the report and other documents in ambit of the queries, he said.
Azad said he was asking for records under Section 18(3)(a) and (e) which gives the Commission powers of a civil court while trying a suit under the Code of Civil Procedure in summoning and enforcing the attendance of persons, compelling them to give oral or written evidence on oath, to produce the documents or things, and issuing summons for examination of witnesses or documents.
According to reports, Rajnish Rai, a 1992-batch IPS officer of Gujarat cadre, had filed a report last year with the CRPF top brass chronicling how a joint team of the Army, Assam Police, CRPF, its jungle warfare unit CoBRA and the border guarding force Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) conducted the encounter on March 29 -30, 2017 in Simlaguri area of Chirang district, and killed what they called were two insurgents of the banned group National Democratic Front of Boroland-Songibijit (NDFB-S).
Rai, who has recently resigned from the Indian Police Service (IPS), in his 13-page report, had alleged that information about the incident and the FIR filed by the joint squad of forces presented a "fictitious account" of the operation to "conceal pre-planned murders of two persons in custody and present it as some brave act of professional achievement".