CIC ORDERS DELHI POLICE TO PASS SPEAKING ORDER ON PROVIDING THE REPORT OF LABS ON SOFTWARE USED IN THE DRAW OF DDA HOUSGING SCHEME, 2008.
M. K. Gupta
The Central Information Commission has remanded back the case of providing copies of the report of the two laboratories which have checked the software used in the draw of DDA Housing Scheme, 2008. In a decision, Mrs. Sushma Singh, Central Information Commissioner said that in view of the observations of the Delhi High Court in the case of Bhagat Singh V/s. Central Information Commission and the submissions of the Appellant, the First Appellate Authority, Economic Offence Wing, Delhi Police should pass a speaking order on the issue.
In the case of Bhagat Singh V/s. CIC, The Delhi High Court has observed:
“Access to information under Section 3 of the Act, is the rule and exemptions under Section 8, the exception. Section 8 being a restriction on this fundamental right, must therefore is to be strictly construed. It should not be interpreted in manner as to shadow the very right self. Under Section 8, exemption from releasing information is granted if it would impede the process of investigation process cannot be a ground for refusal of the information, the authority withholding information must show satisfactory reasons as to why the release of such information would hamper the investigation process. Such reasons should be germane, and the opinion of the process being hampered should be reasonable and based on some material. Sans this consideration, section 8(1) (h) and other such provisions would become the haven for dodging demands for information.”
The case relates to the draw of DDA Housing Scheme, 2008 against which the allegations of rigging in the software were made and Justice G. S. Sistani of the Delhi High Court has allowed the DDA to proceed further in Nov. 2009. In its public advt. dated 15.11.2009 on the draw Housing Scheme 2008, DDA said “In view of clearance given by Hon’ble High Court and Economic Offence Wing, Crime Branch, Delhi Police,Delhi, DDA is happy to announce the commencement of allotment of flats to the successful applicants”. In its press release of 28/29th November, 2009, Ms. Neemo Dhar, Director, PR, DDA also stated“The E.O.W.’s report regarding Housing Draw-2008 wherein allegations of rigging of the software and certain irregularities were alleged, has been received. The report comprises investigations by EOW, software report from GEQD, Hyderabad and also report from C-DAC. ……….. “C-DAC could not find any evidence that the software had any vulnerability to be compromised nor could they detect any evidence of external tampering”.
An RTI applicant named M K Gupta demanded the copies of the two reports viz. GEQD, Hyderabad and C-DAC, Trivandrum from the Economic Offence Wing, Crime Branch, Delhi Police and upon the refusal to give report, his two appeals were heard by Mrs. Sushma Singh, Central Information Commissioner on 26.10.2010. During the hearing attended by Shri T.R. Mongia, Assistant Commissioner of Police and CPIO and others from the EOW, CB, Delhi Police, pleaded that the two reports cannot be divulged as some cases are still going on. They also admitted that they wrote a letter to the DDA informing that the labs have not found any irregularity in the software. The DDA produced that letter before Justice G S Sistani of Delhi High Court and got the not to proceed further for allotting the flats. The Delhi Police said before the CIC that the case is still going on and therefore the reports from two labs cannot be disclosed. The charge sheet is still to be filed. Delhi Police said that the High Court has not made it a party to it in the case and therefore it has not got any opportunity to make its submissions before the High Court implying that the Delhi Police is not responsible for the action of the DDA. Police also admitted that it has got the final reports from the two labs.
M. K. Gupta, applicant was amazed on the arguments of the Delhi Police that while no irregularity has been found, where is the question of any guilty and pending investigation? He said this issue should not be clubbed with the one of relating to Jhunjhunu and elsewhere as they are not at all connected with the veracity of the Software. Since both the labs have given clean chit to the software, therefore, there is no question of impeding the process of any non-existing investigation on this account. Moreover, since the applicants for the DDA Housing Scheme were about 5 lakh and 67 thousand, this is an important case and the reports of the Labs should be disclosed in the larger public interest as the software was sent for checking on the public demand.
Justice G.S. Sistani has given go head to the DDA after the DDA informed him that the Labs have given clean chit to the software. The other case No. WPC/151/2009 was dismissed by Justice Sistani for non-appearance of the advocate of the petitioner, Shri Salek Chan Jain. Salek Chand told that he came to know about the non-appearance of his advocate only after he heard that his case was dismissed.
In the past, contradictory information was provided by the DDA on the software. Mrs. Earlier on 24.11.2008, Poonam Mathur, CPIO informed M. K. Gupta, “software is checked by independent judges/ observers earlier many times including IT experts from IIT Delhi.” On the contrary, she informed to Mr Basab Das Gupta, another applicant, on 27.2.2009, “no agency was involved for testing the software used in the Housing Scheme draw.” When the matter was heard by Shri M. L. Sharma, Central Information Commissioner on 31.7.2009, Mrs. Mathur said that two separate responses were given in the context in which the queries were raised and that reading them out of context would not be proper.