November 3, 2023

Bombay High Court says structural audit of building cannot be made public under RTI


Bombay High Court says structural audit of building cannot be made public under RTI

“The information sought is not subject to disclosure due to security reasons,” a Bombay High Court spokesperson said in a response to an RTI query.

Mumbai, Updated: Nov 03, 2023 19:01 IST

The Bombay High Court has refused to release information about a structural audit of an over 160-year-old heritage building in south Mumbai, claiming that releasing such information would put the lives of judges and other staff at risk.

Activist Zoll Bhathena last month filed an application under the Right to Information Act (RTI), seeking copies of the last three structural audits carried out on the Bombay High Court's main and annexe buildings.

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Bhathena explained that he was seeking this information to use in another matter related to the reconstruction of a 135-year-old reservoir in South Mumbai's Malabar Hill, with the intention of understanding how structural audits of old buildings are being carried out.

In a response on November 1, a spokesman for the High Court rejected Mr. Basena's request, saying the information sought could not be provided as it was not related to wider official activities or interests.

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

It further stated that the requested information is held by the relevant department in a “fiduciary relationship” and that the confidentiality of such sensitive information must be maintained. “No larger public interest has been shown in your application. Therefore, we are unable to disclose the requested information pursuant to the exemption from disclosure under Section 8(1)(e) of the Freedom of Information Act,” the spokesman said.

Mr. Basena said he intends to appeal the denial of the information to the appropriate appellate authority.

“The BMC (Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation) maintained that the reservoir is beyond repair and needs to be reconstructed. We wanted to give the example of the High Court building and the BMC headquarters building, which are also over 100 years old but are being restored rather than reconstructed,” Bhathena said.

He said he had also sought similar information with regard to the structural audit report of BMC buildings and received the relevant reply but the High Court had refused to provide the information.


Ramesh Sharma

release date:

November 3, 2023


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