Gujarat High Court stays CIC order on Modi’s degree

modi degreeThe Gujarat High Court on Friday issued a stay on an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) asking the Gujarat University to provide details of the MA degree of Prime Minister Narendra Modi to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal, who had alleged that it was fake.

A division bench of Chief Justice R. Subhash Reddy and Justice V.M. Pancholi also issued notices to Central Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu and Kejriwal.

The university had earlier approached a single bench of Justice S.H. Vora on June 20 seeking a stay on the CIC order, but it later approached the division bench after it failed to get relief from the court.

In its application, the Gujarat University has stated that it “is not a party to any of the proceeding before the Information Commission. Hence, the order of the CIC is adverse to the interest of the University”.

It further argued that the jurisdiction of CIC extended to the public authority under the Union Government while the university fell beyond its jurisdiction. So the order of CIC is “patently erroneous and requires to be quashed and set aside”.

The university’s counsel also pointed out that Kejriwal’s status as the Chief Minister had been kept in mind by the CIC while issuing the order and this was against the law.

The varsity also claimed that “no notice of hearing has been served to it and the order is passed by CIC without hearing it. There is no application given by Kejriwal before the information officer of GU, nor is there any complaint made against the GU before the Information Commission, Gujarat”.

Citing the Right to Information (RTI) Act provisions, the varsity argued that Kejriwal had not sought any information directly from the university. Also the CIC was not an authority constituted under the RTI Act for the purpose of any information to be supplied by the varsity, it claimed.

On April 29, the CIC had directed Delhi University and Gujarat University to provide information on degrees earned by Modi to Kejriwal, who had criticised the functioning of the transparency panel. The order came a day after he wrote a letter to Acharyulu questioning the impartiality of the functioning of the commission.

The Aam Aadmi Party chiefhad stated that when he did not object to government records about him being made public why should the commission want to “hide” information on Modi’s educational degree. The Information Commissioner had treated Kejriwal’s letter as an RTI application and passed the order.

Seeking to put an end to the controversy, the Gujarat University, from where Modi had taken his MA (external) degree in 1981, had in May put his original marks sheet in the public domain. According to the scanned copies of Modi’s marksheet, he scored a total of 499 marks – 237 marks in MA Part I and 262 in May Part II – out of 800.

Medaram Jathara

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