Educational institution

The minority education institution under public authority falls into RTI Ambit: Division Bench of CIC


Recently, a division bench of the Central Information Commission (CIC) declared the Guru Harikishan Public School (GHPS) in Delhi, a minority educational institution, which is headed by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee (DGSMC) under the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Act (DSG) enacted by Parliament, as a public authority under the Right to Information Act (RTI).

The school administration argued that the Guru Harkrishan Public School was registered before the enactment of the DSG Law and therefore was a private body. In his second argument for appeal, he said: “The DSG Law entered into force on December 30, 1971 while the Guru Harkrishan Public School was registered on February 5, 1971. Therefore, it cannot be said that it was established under the aegis of the DGSMC. ‘

However, the CIC division bench, headed by Central Information Commissioner Vanaja S Sarna, concluded that the school “clearly owes allegiance to the DGSMC, which is a public authority”.

The division bench thus observed that “the current GHPS Society on its website, itself claims to have been established by the Gurdwara management committee in 1965, and after the 1971 ordinance was taken over by the Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee, formed under the DSG Law, 1971. Thus, there appears no obstacle to declaring the GHPS as a public authority as defined in Article 2 (h) of the RTI Law .

The school principal had also referred to some previous CIC rulings in his favor, but that did not hold up with the division bench.

However, the CIC division decree frankly stated that “in the present day, placing the GHPS under public authority will only enhance the transparency of its operations, thereby further enhancing the transparency of its operations. public confidence in the institution ”.

He ordered the school administration to provide the information requested by RTI candidate Rashmi Sharma regarding the qualifications of his teachers and to send a copy of the compliance report to the commission.

The dsgmc.in website states: Delhi Sikh Gurdwara Management Committee or DSGMC is an autonomous organization that manages gurdwaras in Delhi State. DSGMC also operates various educational institutions, hospitals, retirement homes, libraries and other charitable institutions in Delhi. Its headquarters are in Gurdwara Rakab Ganj Sahib, near the Parliament. In 1971, the government of India handed over management, by ordinance, to a five-member Gurdwara Council.

RTI’s claimant, Rashmi Sharma, had filed the following motions:

* The qualification of each teacher appointed as a postgraduate teacher (PGT) from 2004 to date, from each of the branches of the school.

* How many teachers have benefited from a relaxation of the minimum qualification to be appointed PGT from 2004 to date, in each branch of your school?

* How many teachers have benefited from a relaxation of the minimum experience for appointment as PGT from 2004 to date, in each branch of the school.

* The approval requested from the direction of education concerning the minimum qualification of teachers as PGT from 2004 to date, in each of the branches of the school.

* The approval granted by the education directorate concerning the minimum qualification of teachers as PGT from 2004 to date, in each of the branches of your school.

Ms. Sharma had filed the RTI application on September 5, 2017. On October 10, 2017, the school sent a letter stating that it is governed by the Society Registration Act, 1869, which is not a public authority within the meaning of article 2 (h) of the RTI law, 2005.

She filed a first appeal with the First Appeal Authority (FAA) on November 10, 2017, but the FAA rejected her request.

She then filed a second appeal on April 24, 2018, which came to a hearing before a division chamber of the CIC on February 4 and October 4, 2021. The decision was rendered on November 1, 2021. It is almost four years of ‘waiting to obtain the information which should have been set up voluntarily by the school administration in accordance with article 4 of the RTI law.

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consultant editor of Moneylife. She is also the coordinator of Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards such as the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting, which she won twice in 1998 and 2005, and the Chameli Devi Jain Award for Outstanding Media Personality for her series of surveys on Dow Chemicals. She is co-author of the book “To The Last Bullet – The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart – Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)