Jawaharlal Nehru University has refused to make public report of the preliminary inquiry conducted by three professors in the controversial events of February 9 which lead to the arrest of JNUSU President Kanhaiya Kumar and two other students. The University cited exemption clauses of Section 8(1)(g) and 8(1)(h) of the RTI Act saying that “the matter of incidents that took place on February 9, 2016 and subsequent developments relating thereto are under investigation at the University level.”
While section 8(1)(h) exempts information disclosure which can impede an ongoing inquiry, 8(1)(g) is against disclosure which could endanger the life or physical safety of any person or identify the source of information or assistance given in confidence for law enforcement or security purposes.
The University while refusing the information to activist Paras Nath Singh did not give reasons as to how disclosure would impede the investigation which is mandatory after a landmark order of the Delhi High Court by Justice Ravindra Bhat.
“It is apparent that the mere existence of an 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,” Bhat had observed.
He had said 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,” he had said while overruling the CIC order which had allowed preliminary report of an investigation to be withheld.