Delhi University has refused to share the attendance details of its administrative officials, including the vice chancellor, saying the information was not in “public interest” and would amount to “invasion of privacy”. This, when Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) teachers, who are on a warpath against the administration, have been warned that their leave would not be approved if they do not mark their attendance.
The tussle began a year ago when attendance details of the non-teaching staff of the Delhi University, which includes the VC, pro-vice chancellor, registrar, deputy registrar, assistant registrar and others were sought under the Right to Information (RTI) Act by a person who declined to be identified.
“It appears that the information sought by the applicant is personal in nature as far as the particular official is concerned and it would cause unwarranted invasion into the privacy of an individual. It does not appear that any larger public interest would be served by disclosure of this information in the public domain,” the varsity’s Public Information Officer (PIO) said quoting section 8(1)(j) of the(RTI) Act.
The university’s First Appellate Authority, which heard the case in September, concurred with the decision. It said that section 8 allows the PIO to withhold information in case he or she deems it as causing “unwarranted invasion of the privacy” of the individual. The section quoted says information may be denied “which relates to personal information, the disclosure of which has not relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual.”
The denial of information gains importance in the light of ongoing tiff between the JNU varsity and its teachers, who have been refusing to sign the attendance register, terming it as restrictive to their “academic freedom”. If teachers stand to lose their leave for not conforming to rules, the administrative staff — at least in the DU — enjoys relative opacity when it comes to accountability on their absence from office, the RTI applicant, contended.
Attendance of students is sometimes given out by universities to name and shame them into coming for classes. Deputy registrar Sudhir Sharma, who is the first appellate authority at the university, could not be reached by IANS, despite several attempts.