The High Court Monday issued notices to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kerjriwal and Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu on a petition moved by Gujarat University against a Central Information Commis-sion’s (CIC’s) order directing the varsity to “search for information regarding degrees in the name of Mr Narendra Damodar Modi”.
Justice S H Vora issued the notices following a brief hearing during which the varsity’s counsel S N Shelat said the CIC does not have jurisdiction to send such directives. Shelat argued that no notice of hearing was served to Gujarat University and the order was passed without hearing the varsity. The petition was filed by the registrar of the varsity last week and the High Court asked the respondents — Kejriwal and Acharyulu (who had passed the order) — to file replies by July 22.
The CIC had passed the order on April 29. While deciding an appeal on an RTI application seeking information on electoral photo identity card of Kejriwal, Acharyulu , according to the plea, “suo motu decided the controversy as regards the qualification of the prime minister without any proceedings pending before him”.
The CIC order came after Kejriwal criticised the information panel, alleging that it was “obstructing information” about Modi’s degrees. The CIC had asked Delhi University and Gujarat University “to make best possible search for information regarding degrees in the name of ‘Mr Narendra Damodar Modi’ in the year 1978 (Graduation in DU) and 1983 (Post-Graduation in GU) and provide it to the appellant Mr Kejriwal as soon as possible.”
The petition, however, mentioned: “On inquiry, it appears that the case of Hans Raj Jain vs Delhi University was already decided by the competent authority under the act and respondent number-1 (CIC) could not have assumed jurisdiction in respect of the questions raised in the said complaint.”
Through an RTI plea, Hans Raj Jain had sought details of students who graduated in 1978 with names starting with N and M from Delhi University, which responded that it could not secure such details. The case was closed, but the Delhi CM opposed the move. The petition said that “though there was no application by the respondent no-2 (Kejriwal) before the Central Public Information Officer as designated by concerned public authority in respect of Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi’s educational qualification, at the instance of respondent no-2, respondent no-1 (CIC) has passed the orders/directions against the petitioner university and Delhi University.”