The Central Information Commission today directed the universities of Delhi and Gujarat to provide proper responses to RTI applications seeking details of education qualifications of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu directed the Prime Minister’s Office to make available details such as roll number, degree number of the Prime Minister to the Delhi University so that it can search the records and facilitate disclosure of information to RTI applicants.
Delhi University had claimed that unless the roll number of a student is not provided, it would be difficult to search the records.
The CIC is the final appellate authority in the matter pertaining to RTI. However, the decision can be challenged through a writ petition before any high court in the country.
The CIC’s order came a day after Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal wrote a letter to Acharyulu saying he does not object to government records about him being made public and wondered why the Commission wants to “hide” information on Modi’s educational degree.
“There are allegations that Narendra Modi does not have any degree. The people of the country want to know the truth.
Despite that you have refused to make records regarding his degree public. Why did you do this? This is wrong,” Kejriwal had said in his letter.
“Not prescribing the education (degree based) qualification for contesting electoral offices is one of the great features of Indian democracy. What needed is education and not degrees. However, when a citizen holding the position of Chief Ministership wants to know the degree related information of the Prime Minister, it will be proper to disclose,” Acharyulu said in the order.
It was an unusual step of the Information Commissioner to treat Kejriwal’s letter as an RTI application.
“The Commission directs the CPIOs of Delhi University and Gujarat University to make best possible search for the information regarding degrees in the name of “Mr Narendra Damodar Modi” in the year 1978 (Graduation in DU) and 1983 (Post Graduation in GU) and provide it to the appellant Mr Kejriwal as soon as possible,” he said.
The genesis of the case is in two previous CIC orders and a scathing letter from Kejriwal to Acharyulu where he demanded that while he was ready to share information sought by RTI applicants, the CIC must also order disclosure of educational qualifications of the Prime Minister.
In the case of Hans Raj Jain, who sought the details of the students who passed in 1978 with names starting from N (Narendra) and M (Modi), the Delhi University had claimed that it will not be possible to search from lakhs of external students unless roll number was provided.
(With inputs from agencies).