Jawaharlal Nehru University must pro-actively disclose steps taken to ward off the menace of theft which has recently plagued the institution as it is suspected that culprits could be hiding somewhere inside the campus, the Central Information Commission has held. The issue surfaced during a hearing before the CIC where an appellant sought damages from the university for a theft that took place at his residence inside the campus. The university said it was impossible to ascertain truthfulness of claims and demands for providing compensation in absence of bills or vouchers from the appellant as it can only pay damages if the appellant proves the loss actually suffered by him and if it was due to negligence of respondent authority (JNU). It said appellants Jamal Ahmed and SJ Ashraf did not submit the vouchers required. "The conduct of the appellant and his representative give rise to suspicion about his claim. Officers expressed frustration at the repeated RTI applications and representations at different fora without discharging their duty," Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu noted.
He said the Commission also has spent several days in hearing his appeals on the same subject. "It can be inferred from non-response to requests from Chief Security Office and others to submit original proofs of ownership of so called stolen good that appellants have nothing to say about burglary. Any more consideration of their appeals will cause wastage of time of the public authorities including CIC, which means the loss of public money," he said. While Acharyulu rejected the appeals, he expressed concerns over reports of theft in the JNU. "This is a matter of serious concern. Though it is not possible to strictly construe that JNU should be vicariously liable for crime of burglary directly, there is a general responsibility on the authorities of JNU to take measures to prevent these incidents and to strengthen security and if there is any lapse in such prevention the authorities will be vicariously liable according to principles of tortuous liability," he said. Acharyulu said the Commission recommends JNU to disclose on their official website and also inform the staff residing in the campus about the preventive measures taken including community policing, process of seeking compensation and time frame etc for the same, as soon as possible.
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