PM Narendra Modi’s degree row: CIC allows inspection of DU records of 1978

RTI applicant Neeraj had sought to know from the University the total number of students who appeared in Bachelor of Arts, Year 1978.

By: PTI | New Delhi | Published:January 8, 2017 7:34 pm
Pm modi, modi degree, modi degree row, modi degree RTI, narendra modi degree, RTI degree modi, india news Amit Shah and Arun Jaitley flashing Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree at a press conference. (File)

The Central Information Commission has directed Delhi University to allow inspection of records related to all the students who had passed BA degree in 1978, the year in which, according to the University, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also cleared the examination. The Commission rejected the contention of the Central Public Information Officer of the University that it was a third party personal information, saying it finds “neither merit nor legality” in it.

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It directed the university “to facilitate inspection of relevant register where complete information about result of all students who passed in Bachelor of Arts, in year 1978 along with roll number, names of the students, father’s 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….”

RTI applicant Neeraj had sought to know from the University the total number of students who appeared in Bachelor of Arts, Year 1978, besides result of all students who appeared in the examination along with their roll number, name of the students with father’s name, marks and result pass or failed.

Denying the information, the Central Public Information Officer of the University had responded that the information requested is treated as “personal information of the students concerned, the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest”.

Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu, however, 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”.

During the hearing before the Commission, CPIO Meenakshi Sahay said there are 2,00,000 students in “this year’s BA programme, and unless the subject of BA programme is specified, it will be difficult to give the information sought such as the number of students appeared, failed, passed, etc in the year 1978”. She also said 1978 results were not in digitised form.

Neeraj said it is the past practice of Delhi University to publish such results on the notice board and at times in newspapers also, which means the information sought was available with the public authority and was published or put in public domain without any limitations mentioned by the CPIO.

The issue of 1978 DU degree records cropped up after Aam Aadmi Party raised questions about the degree of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, triggering a controversy.

“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,” Delhi University Registrar Tarun Das had said last year after the row erupted.