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Information and Broadcasting Ministry's reply sought on Mumbai blast convicts plea

Information and Broadcasting Ministry
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Petition challenged order for free books under RTI Act

New Delhi (PTI): The Delhi High Court on Monday sought response of the Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on a plea by a convict in the 2006 Mumbai train bombings case seeking copies of certain publications free of cost under the RTI Act.

Justice Jayant Nath issued notice to the CPIO of the ministry's publications division on the petition by convict Ehtesham Qutubuddin Siddique challenging the order of Central Information Commission (CIC) declining to provide the information sought by him under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The court said that the reply should be filed by authorities within two weeks and listed the matter for further hearing on November 15. Siddique, presently lodged in Nagpur Central Jail, was given capital punishment for the July 11, 2006 serial blasts when seven RDX bombs ripped through many Western line local trains in Mumbai leading to the death of 189 persons and injuring 829.

In his plea, the convict said he has completed several courses provided by IGNOU free of cost in jail and wishes to know more about various topics, books and materials. Since various topics are not available in prison library, he sought hard copies of those publications/ books under the provisions of the RTI Act.

Advocate Arpit Bhargava, appearing for Siddique, said the prisoner had mentioned in his application that he was a person below poverty line since he was in custody, and being a convict, he was entitled to all such publications/ books "free of cost". However, the request was declined by the publication division of the Ministry of I&B and it was stated that since books/ publications referred in application are priced ones, they cannot be supplied free of cost to general public under any circumstances.

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