New Delhi: The Gujarat high court has set aside a 2016 order of the Central Information Commission to the Gujarat University, asking it to provide information on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degrees to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal and imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on the latter.
Justice Biren Vaishnav ordered Kejriwal to submit the penalty with the Gujarat State Legal Services Authority within four weeks.
The Gujarat University had challenged the CIC’s order on the grounds that it was passed without a notice having been served on it by the CIC, LiveLaw reported.
The university claimed that Dr Sridhar Acharyulu, then the CIC, had suo motu issued the order while considering an application on Kejriwal’s electoral identity card, even though no proceedings were pending before him.
Kejriwal, reported LiveLaw, wrote to the Commission and said that while he is ready to furnish required information, Prime Minister Modi too should be asked to disclose details on his degree.
The Aam Aadmi Party, especially at around 2016, would be vocal in its distrust of Modi’s claims about his educational qualifications.
Acharyulu considered Kejriwal’s note an “application under RTI in his capacity as a citizen” and directed the Public Information Officer of the Prime Minister’s Office to provide copies of Modi’s Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts degrees. Gujarat University, from where Modi has claimed to have done his Masters in ‘Entire Political Science’, was also directed to provide a copy of the degree to Kejriwal.
The Delhi University authenticated Modi’s Bachelor’s degree. “We have checked our records and it has been authenticated that Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree is authentic. He cleared the examination in 1978 and was awarded the degree in 1979,” The Wire had quoted Tarun Das, then DU registrar, as having said.
The DU has challenged another 2017 CIC order asking it to allow inspection of BA records of 1978, the year Modi is said to have passed the exam. The case is ongoing at the Delhi high court.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued on behalf of Gujarat University that the RTI Act was being “misused to settled scores and taking a childish jab at opponents,” reported LiveLaw.
SG Mehta also said that the university had already placed the degree in the public domain.
Court arguments focused on whether the RTI Act can be used to “satisfy someone’s curiosity.”
Mehta also cited Section 8 (1) (j) of the RTI Act which encapsulates that information which relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual, cannot be got unless the authorities are convinced that the larger public interest is satisfied through its disclosure.
He said the university was holding the degree records in its fiduciary capacity and thus was exempted from disclosing this information under the above Section of the Act.