New Delhi: The Delhi high court on Monday put a stay on the CIC’s order, which had earlier allowed the inspection of records of all students who had cleared BA examination in 1978 from Delhi University, the same year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi also passed the examination.
The court’s decision was a setback to the RTI activist, who had sought information relating to PM Modi’s BA degree. The Delhi University, which had challenged the CIC’s December 21, 2016 order, had moved the court and sought relief in the matter. Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, while extending the relief, also issued a notice to RTI activist Neeraj, seeking his response.
The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on April 27. The activist has to reply to the petition filed by the DU, which claimed that the CIC order was “arbitrary” and “untenable in law” as the information sought to be disclosed was “third party personal information”.
Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and central government standing counsel Arun Bhardwaj said that the CIC order had “far-reaching adverse consequences for the petitioner and all universities in the country, which hold degrees of crores of students in a fiduciary capacity”.
The DU plea said, “It was completely illegal for the CIC to direct the petitioner (Delhi University) to disclose any information which is available to it in its fiduciary capacity, that too without rendering any finding pertaining to any pressing necessity or overwhelming public interest warranting disclosure of such information on account of overwhelming/larger public interest sought to be achieved through such disclosure.”
The CIC, in its order, had directed DU to allow inspection while rejecting contention of its Central Public Information Officer that it was third party personal information, saying there was “neither merit, nor legality” in it.
It had directed the university “to facilitate inspection of relevant register where complete information about result of all the students who passed in Bachelor of Arts in year 1978 along with roll number, names of the students, fathers’ name and marks obtained as available with the University and provide certified copy of the extract of relevant pages from the register, free of cost....”
The CIC order had said, “With regard to question whether disclosure of such identification related information causes invasion of privacy, or is that unwarranted invasion of privacy, the PIO has not put forward any evidence or explained possibility to show that disclosure of degree related information infringes the privacy or causes unwarranted invasion of privacy”.