HC stays CIC order allowing inspection of DU records of 1978

Ne Delhi: A Central Information Commission order directing Delhi University to allow the inspection of records of all students who had passed BA examination in 1978, the year when Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also cleared it, was stayed by the Delhi High Court today.

Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur
Chief Information Commissioner R K Mathur

Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva, while extending the relief sought by Delhi University, which had challenged the CIC’s December 21, 2016 decision, also issued notice to RTI activist Neeraj seeking his response.

The court has now fixed the matter for further hearing on April 27, by when the activist has to reply to the petition filed by DU, claiming the CIC order is “arbitrary” and “untenable in law” as the information sought to be disclosed is “third party personal information”.

Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta and central government standing counsel Arun Bhardwaj submitted before the court that CIC order has “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 (DU) to disclose an 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 asked 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”.