Monday, August 13, 2007

Use of RTI to unearth bias by cop

There have been numerous instances now of people using the RTI Act to inquire about things of public interest, including cases of dereliction of duty, corruption in construction, the state of public spending under various development heads, and so on. For people used to a cold and secretive bureaucracy, the spotlight it shines on officials is an incredible asset, and can do wonders. The RTI Act has also been used by people to find out about the status of their files, and the very act of asking for this information normally leads to the file moving at a speed that the babus are unused to. But this particular application is one that I have not read about before:

Right To Information (RTI) query has exposed how a senior police inspector (now retired) allegedly favoured one businessman to settle scores with another in a civil dispute case.
Trader Jasmine Shah, arrested in a cheating case three years ago, has used RTI to prove that he was illegally arrested by then D N Nagar police station senior inspector M A Shaikh. The information Shah has obtained states that the departmental inquiry, conducted by then deputy commissioner of police (zone IX) Amitabh Gupta, found Shaikh guilty and resulted in disciplinary action against the officer for arresting Shah. Albeit, the department did not initiate any punitive measures against Shaikh as he had retired two years ago.

The acts of our police department, sans most means of accountability to the general public whom they serve, do not normally lead people to write about them in praise. But it is cases like these which lead to a clamour for reform, so that policemen cannot misuse their powers, and act with a bias. Given that the way that our police force has evolved, as a instrument used to control the Indian public during the British rule, it is no wonder that the police has an institutional trend towards behaving as they wish.
It is only when more people get enthused by this success that the use of the RTI Act will become more wide-spread. If we are to bring in more accountability and reduce corruption in our system, the RTI Act will be a major weapon in that.

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posted by Ashish Agarwal @ 8:29 AM