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The Supreme Court bench said that the marines were only allowed to travel to Italy under the control and custody of the Ambassador of Italy in India and remain there and would have to return to India to stand trial
The Supreme Court today permitted two Italian marines accused of shooting dead two Indian fishermen off the coast of Kerala, to travel home to cast vote in the upcoming elections there.
A bench headed by Chief Justice Altamas Kabir said that the accused marines, Massimiliano Lattore and Salvatore Girone, could travel to Italy under the control and custody of the Ambassador of Italy in India, to cast their ballots in the elections scheduled for 24th and 25th February.
The bench also comprising justice AR Dave and justice Vikramajit Sen allowed the plea of the two marines and the Italian government to allow them to travel for four weeks to Italy. “We are inclined to allow the prayer,” the bench said while asking the Italian Ambassador to file an additional affidavit on behalf of the Republic of Italy.
While allowing the plea, the bench noted that under Italian law, the marines were not entitled to cast their votes through postal ballot. The bench said that the marines were only allowed to travel to Italy and remain there and would have to return to India to stand trial.
During the hearing, the apex court was told that the trial court in Kollam, Kerala, was yet to hand over the passports of the two marines to the ministry of home affairs (MHA) in accordance with an 18th January order of the SC. The bench was told that passports had been mailed on 16th February.
The bench said that in case the passports of the marines were yet to be received by the home ministry, they could travel on temporary documents. The two marines were on board the Italian vessel Enrica Lexie, when they had shot dead the two fishermen on 15 February 2012.
The applicant made a charge of plagiarism about a thesis based on which an M Tech degree was awarded. While allowing the appeal, the CIC asked the PIO to provide a certified copy of the thesis. This is the 46th in a series of important judgements given by former Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi that can be used or quoted in an RTI application
The Central Information Commission (CIC), without going into the issue whether any exemption is applicable in the case, felt that there was adequate prima-facie evidence which shows the possibility of plagiarism. It then allowed the appeal directing the Public Information Officer (PIO) to provide complete information.
While giving this important judgement on 18 January 2010, Shailesh Gandhi, the then Central Information Commissioner, said, “One of the key objectives of the Right to Information (RTI) Act is to improve transparency and contain corruption. The evidence before the Commission that has been present by the appellant seems to show a very strong possibility of plagiarism which is one of the worst forms of corruption.”
Kurukshetra resident Mahesh Kumar Gupta sought copy of an M Tech dissertation. He sought a certified (with date) readable copy (starting from cover page till last page including pages with Library facsimile) of the following information:
“Copy of M Tech Dissertation titled ‘Production Planning Problems in Engineering Industry (A Goal Programming Approach)’ submitted in 1991 in the Mechanical Engineering Department, Regional Engineering College, Kurukshetra which is available in the Library, NIT Kurukshetra with the details: Call No Thesis-M,l 1991 Acc No540.”
The PIO while claiming an exemption denied the information. He said, “The dissertation submitted by a candidate was a part of the examination. When the answer papers were evaluated, the authority conducting the examination and examiners evaluating the answers papers stand in a fiduciary relationship between each other. Such relationship warrants maintenance of confidentiality by both of manner and method of evaluation.”
Not satisfied with the reply from the PIO, the applicant then approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). In his first appeal, Gupta stated that he was issued same M Tech Dissertation from the Library on 9 July 2009, however, the CPIO, NIT Kurukshetra has refused to provide a certified copy of the same.
The FAA, while rejecting the appeal, stated that sought information by the appellant could not be provided.
Gupta the filed his second appeal before the CIC. During a hearing on 18th January, the PIO stated that all copies of the dissertation are kept in a library and these are available for everyone to take a look. He also stated that library users are permitted to get it issued and take them with themselves. He raised the issue of whether a person can use Right to Information (RTI) to demand photocopies of the other books which are kept in the library.
Gupta, in his statement said, that he had clearly indicated that he was making a charge of plagiarism since his contention is that the said thesis based on which an M Tech has been awarded to Pankaj Chandna in 1991 is a complete copy of the thesis submitted by Yogesh Saxena as his M Tech dissertation to IIT Delhi in 1982.
Gupta also submitted a copy of Yogesh Saxena's dissertation as also a purported copy of the dissertation by Pankaj Chandna before the Commission. He further alleged that this dissertation by Pankaj Chandna was under the guidance of Prof SK Sharma and that the copy in the library of the Institute has Sharma’s signature with the date 4 May 1991 on the page of the dissertation.
The RTI Act in preamble states,
“AND WHEREAS democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed;”
Mr Gandhi, the CIC, said, that it appeared the appellant (Gupta) had raised this (the issue of plagiarism) within the institute. Gupta also produced before the Commission newspaper cuttings in which these allegations of plagiarism have been mentioned. The news reports mentioned that the reporters had spoken to Pankaj Chandna, and JK Palit, chairman of the Board of Governors of NIT, Kurukshetra.
“Thus it appears that the Institute was well aware of this charge and perhaps did not wish to correct anything,” Mr Gandhi noted.
Gupta also submitted a letter by the deputy registrar of NIT, Kurukshetra dated 7 September 2009, and addressed to the ministry of human resources development (HRD), mentioning the issue.
Section-8(2) of the RTI Act states,
“Notwithstanding anything in the Official Secrets Act, 1923, nor any of the exemptions permissible in accordance with sub-section (1), a public authority may allow access to information, if public interests in the disclosure outweigh the harm to the protected interests.”
“Thus even if an exemption clause of Section 8(1) applies, larger public interest would dictate that the information must be disclosed. In the instant matter the Commission is not going into the issues of whether any exemption applies but feels there is adequate prima-facie evidence which shows the possibility of plagiarism,” Mr Gandhi said in his order.
The Commission then asked the PIO to give complete information to the appellant before 30 January 2010.
CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
Appeal No. CIC/SG/A/2009/003039
Appellant : Mahesh Kumar Gupta
Lecturer, Mechanical Engr. Deptt.
National Institute of Technology,
Respondent : GR Samantaray
Central Public Information Officer &
National Institute of Technology
(Institute of National Importance),