Delhi High Court stays CIC orders directing disclosure of Modi’s degree and Smriti Irani’s marksheets

Nalini Sharma

The Delhi High Court today stayed the Central Information Commission’s (CIC) orders directing Delhi University and CBSE to disclose the details of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s graduation degree and Union Minister Smriti Irani’s class tenth and twelfth marksheets.

The order was passed by Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva.

The Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and Delhi University approached the Delhi High Court challenging the CIC orders directing the said disclosure and imposing a fine of Rs. 25,000 for rejecting the RTIs.

The case relates to RTIs filed by Mohammed Irsad and Mohammed Nashadudin seeking disclosure of Modi’s graduation degree and Irani’s marksheets respectively. The RTIs were rejected by the CPIOs of DU and CBSE, after which an appeal was filed before the CIC.

Challenging the CIC orders, CBSE and DU contended today that the CIC orders were erroneous and liable to be quashed.

Counsel for CBSE argued that the Right to Information Act specifically exempted disclosure of third-party information, contrary to the stand taken by CIC in their order which stated,

“Third party information cannot be defended as information given in ‘fiduciary capacity’ because the result of examination given after securing education through a public admission process is the information generated and given by public authority to the student and not vice versa.”

Counsel for Delhi University, on the other hand, argued that the RTI was rejected because the Indian Postal Order (IPO) was wrongly addressed since it was not marked in favour of the Registrar. He submitted that ‘wrongly-addressed’ fee instruments cannot be accepted.

In this regard, the bench held that the procedural regularities cannot be done away with and the RTI applicant stating that the rejection was unfair, was a “frivolous” argument.

“They responded to your RTI within three days and told you to fix it. I would have understood if they had sat on it for a month. But this is a really frivolous issue”, said Justice Sachdeva.

Interestingly, the IPO on which the debate revolves, amounts only to Rs. 10. On being informed of the same, Justice Sachdeva exclaimed,

“Do you realize how much of this court’s time is being wasted because of just Rs. 10?”

After calling the entire proceedings “frivolous” more than half a dozen times, the Court stayed the CIC order against Delhi University allowing the RTI applicants to set the procedural mistake right by paying Rs. 10 in cash.

The bench also issued notice to Mohammed Nashadudin while staying the CIC order against CBSE seeking his reply by the next date of hearing on April 27.

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