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Batla House encounter: Is the truth being withheld?
The October 19, Batla House encounter, which created ripples throughout the country has now left suspicion that there was a deliberate attempt to camouflage the truth. Departments related to the case have declined to share any information
ONE THING responsible for fuelling the anger of the minority community after the Batla House encounter was that they remained uninformed about the state of affairs. They did not get any detailed briefing about the incident. The case apparently lacked transparency.


On September 19, police encounter in Delhi’s Jamia Nagar killed two suspected terrorists allegedly involved in Delhi serial blasts, Atif Ameen and Mohammad Sajed, along with a police officer, Mohan Chand Sharma.


One and a half months after the case, the truth about the encounter and subsequent arrests that followed it, still remains shrouded in mystery. Even under the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the various departments that were related to the case have denied to pass on the information. It leaves a suspicion that there is a deliberate attempt to camouflage the truth.


The Jaiprakash Narayan Apex Trauma Centre of AIIMS has turned down the request to provide information about the post mortem reports saying that the case was related to Medico Legal Records.


They refused to provide information under Sections 8(1) b and 8(1) h of the RTI to a petitioner, Afroz Alam Sahil.


Section 8(1) b of the Right To Information Act – 2005 states that information, which has been expressly forbidden to be published by any court of law or tribunal or the disclosure, of which may constitute contempt of court cannot be provided to an RTI petitioner.


Section 8(1) h states that information cannot be provided about matters, which would impede the process of investigation or apprehension or prosecution of the offenders.


Wrong arguments


Both do not apply to the Batla House encounter case, according to experts. “The arguments given by AIIMS are totally baseless,” said Prashant Bhushan, Supreme Court lawyer. “No orders or ruling has been passed by the court to withhold information regarding the case. And by no means it can amount to contempt of court,” he added.


Asked if the information in any way could impede the process of investigation, the seasoned lawyer said, “What does it have to do with the investigations?”


The Delhi police


The Delhi police also tried to evade questions on the issue. It preferred to answer only three out of six questions asked in the RTI petition in connection with the encounter and subsequent arrests. The answers too were only denials instead of information.


It declined to provide the post mortem report of the deceased in the case citing section 8(1)h of the RTI Act-05 as AIIMS had done. Interestingly, the office of the deputy commissioner of police (DCP), crime, Delhi, makes no mention of the other questions asked in the petition. The petitioner had also asked to provide the number of people arrested in connection to the serial blasts in the capital on September 13 and the places from where they were arrested. In addition, it was asked if the police have any evidence against those who have been arrested. The Delhi police did not feel it was necessary to answer these questions.


According to the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), so far 2560 cases of police encounter/alleged fake encounter has come up before it. The commission has so far granted compensation in 16 cases of police encounter/alleged fake encounter. The statistics add to the suspicion of the people. The Delhi police has not done anything substantial to alleviate doubts from the minds of the people of the community. Poor reporting and confusion on the part of journalists has also helped the cause of doubts and distrust.
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