Tuesday, March 27, 2012

CHENNAI: Bid to get info on police booths hits roadblock

By G Saravanan
Published in The New Indian Express, Chennai on March 27, 2012:
CHENNAI: An attempt by a city-based RTI activist to obtain the number of police booths located on platforms (meant for pedestrians) using RTI failed to yield any result as both the Police department as well as the State Information Commission washed their hands off providing any details.
R Natarajan had filed a RTI plea with the Director General of Police  (DGP) office last July seeking details about the number of police booths located on platforms in Chennai city. As the information sought by Natarajan pertained to Chennai, the public information officer of the DGP’s office transferred his application to the Commissionerate of Police, Chennai city and asked them to provide it to the applicant.
However, the PIO of the Commissionerate of Police replied to Natarajan that the office does not maintain details about the number of police booths.He asked Natarajan to get the details from PIOs of 164 police stations, who would maintain the list such police booths in their limits.
With the police department still dilly-dallying on the issue citing difficulties in collecting and corroborating the information from different PIOs, Natarajan approached the State Information Commission and sought a direction to the police department to provide the details. 
Then came the anticlimax to the story. Though the police department inclined to part with the details if the applicant filed separate applications with each of the 164 police stations, the SIC bluntly replied to Natarajan saying, “The issue of police booths are beyond the purview of the Commission.”
Speaking to Express, Natarajan said: “The information sought under RTI was neither classified information nor confidential. I cannot understand why the police department is hesitating to part with it.”
It may be noted that the Mumbai Police (four years ago) had accepted the presence of such police booths on platforms in the city in response to an RTI plea and eventually dismantled all of them, as it was illegal to encroach on the platform, meant only for pedestrians.
With the SIC also dilly-dallying, Natarajan has planned to appeal to the Governor of the state to order the SIC to provide the details.

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