November 3, 2023

Bombay High Court rejects RTI request seeking details of structural audit of buildings


Disclosing information about the structural audit of the Bombay High Court would “endanger” the lives of judges and other employees, a high court spokesperson argued, but refused to reveal details under Right to Information (RTI).

Environmental activist Zoll Bhathena last month filed an RTI application seeking copies of the last three structural audits conducted on the main and annexe buildings of the Bombay High Court, a landmark building in south Mumbai.

Bhathena had sought the information for comparison in relation to the reconstruction of a 135-year-old reservoir at Malabar Hill in South Mumbai, which the Mumbai Municipal Corporation has said is too dilapidated and needs to be rebuilt. He said he wanted to cite the examples of the HC Building and the BMC headquarters building, which are also over 100 years old but are being restored rather than rebuilt.

He said he had received information under RTI regarding structural audit of BMC buildings but was denied the same by the High Court.

“The requested information is exempt from disclosure for security reasons.”

The PIO, in its reply refusing the information, stated that the information sought could not be provided as it was not related to any larger public activity or interest.

“The information sought is exempt from disclosure on security grounds. Also, the information sought is exempt from disclosure as disclosure would endanger the life and physical safety of the Judges and staff of the Bombay High Court,” the response said.

“Furthermore, the information sought is held by the relevant department in a trust relationship,” the response said, adding: “No larger public interest has been shown in your application. Therefore, the information sought cannot be disclosed in light of the exemption from disclosure under Section 8(1(e) of the Freedom of Information Act.”

The activists plan to appeal against the denial of information under RTI. “(I) will definitely file an appeal challenging this erroneous denial of information,” Bacena said.

Published: Friday, November 3, 2023 4:48 PM IST


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