July 2, 2021 4:08:07 am
The Gujarat High Court on June 28 issued notices to three private higher education institutes and the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), after the latter passed an order in January this year, stating that the three universities are exempted from the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Three petitions have been filed by Sandip Munjyasara against Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT), Pandit Deendayal Energy University (PDEU), Ahmedabad University (AU), with the GIC also made a respondent party in all three petitions.
Munjyasara had filed RTI requests with the three institutes in November 2019 seeking seats and admission details. However, DAIICT did not reply and the other two institutes responded saying they are private universities and are thus not under the purview of the RTI Act.
Munjyasara then filed a complaint with the GIC in January 2020, specifically on the ground that the RTI Act specifies under Section 2 (h) (c) that a public authority means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted, by any law made by the State Legislature, which the three universities qualify under, according to the petitioner. However, GIC held that the three universities do not qualify as ‘public authority’, stating that ‘public authority’ cannot be determined solely on the basis of section 2(h) (c), thus ruling in favour of the universities.
Munjyasara has now challenged the GIC’s ruling before the Gujarat High Court, relying on two Supreme Court judgments, one being DAV College Trust and Management Society and others versus Director of Public Instructions were the court had laid down what institutes would be covered by section 2(h) of the Act and be deemed as ‘public authority’.
The petitioner has sought that the GIC order be quashed and set aside and that the court hold the three universities as ‘public authority’, eligible to be under the purview of the RTI Act.
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