Trace records of death commutation: CIC

Trace records of death commutation: CIC

The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the government to trace records of death convicts whose sentence has been commuted to life term by the President since 1970 in order to disclose the details under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The CIC rejected the government plea that it could not furnish the details as records were available from 1981 onwards. The commission said the government should trace the records as information is disclosable and records are not that old. Information Commissioner Sushma Singh directed the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to provide details to Narinder, a life convict, who is lodged in the Agra central jail for the last 17 years.

Narinder filed an RTI application in the President’s secretariat seeking the list of convicts in whose case death penalty had been commuted to life imprisonment after consideration of their mercy petitions by the President since 1970 and sought the copies of such orders.

The President’s secretariat transferred the application to the MHA, which in turn replied that details of the cases were available from 1981 onwards. It further said the information could be provided on payment of Rs 22 for photocopy charges.

Narinder challenged the decision of the MHA given to the chief public information officer (CPIO), appellate authority, contending that complete details should be provided to him free of cost. The CPIO did not allow his plea stating that only those applicants holding a BPL card were provided information free of cost.

When the matter reached the CIC, the applicant agreed to pay the required fees but insisted on being provided information from 1970.

The commission allowed his plea and rejected the CPIO argument. “The information requested by the appellant is disclosable information. Moreover, the records are not so old that they cannot be traced,” it said.

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