Chembur woman wins RTI battle against Mumbai cops
Was denied CCTV footage from the police station twice under the pretext of secrecy; gets it four months later, in final appeal
A 51-year-old resident of Chembur, allegedly verbally abused inside the premises of Chembur police station, has resorted to Right To Information (RTI) to procure the CCTV footage of the incident but was refused information at the first go. This comes two days after mid-day had highlighted the plight of Sachin Jaiswar's family after his alleged death because of police atrocity at the Dharavi police station. In both cases, cops refused to provide CCTV footage of the police station under the RTI Act citing section 8 (I) (H) (information which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of offenders)
It took Chembur's Salma Qureshi almost four months to procure the footage of locals verbally abusing her when she reached the station to file an FIR over a family dispute. A senior police inspector had also misbehaved with her then, she had alleged. With nowhere to go, she decided to file a case against the culprits but did not have any concrete evidence. She thus zeroed in on the RTI Act but that wasn't an easy task either.
The RTI Act works in three phases. If a request for information is rejected at first, a person can file two appeals. "My application was rejected at the first stage saying footage inside a police station could not be provided owing to limitations. In fact, they even refused to provide the footage from outside the station. This would have shown all the culprits abusing me. On my second and last appeal, the appellant authority - DCP hearing my case, passed an order in my favour. Finally, I got the footage," said Qureshi. "Under the act, police can't refuse to provide CCTV footage inside their station as it is public property. Usage of section of secrecy under the act is inappropriate," she added.
The family of Sachin Jaiswar, whose body is still lying in the JJ Hospital morgue, is waiting to conduct his last rites. His father Ravindra Jaiswar, who has claimed that his 17-year-old son died because the cops thrashed him inside the police station over a mobile theft, had also resorted to the RTI Act but the cops have refused to provide him the footage too. Jaiswar was allegedly beaten up in custody on July 12, 2018 for 22 hours.
"If the Chembur police station can provide the footage, why can't they (Dharavi police)? This proves that the police are trying to hide evidence. They beat our son in front of me so I know the truth. But no one would raise this issue since we are poor, but I won't give up." On Thursday, the aggrieved father released a video which is now being circulated across social media where he has sought help from the Chief Minister of Maharashtra and the Prime Minister to get justice for his son.
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