6 Aug 2010

Information of private schools available under RTI: CIC

In a recent decision the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held that the even though the private schools are strictly not covered within the ambit of Right to Information Act, 2005, in as much as information pertaining to them is available with the Government in terms of the laws regulating the schools, such information being available with the public authority is accessible under the Act. 

Applying a recent decision of the Supreme Court in this issue to declare thus, the CIC in Bindu Khanna v. Directorate of Education inter alia held as under;
16. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in “Khanapuram Gandaiah Vs. Administrative Officer & ors” (AIR2010SC615) has held that under Section 6 of the RTI Act, an applicant is entitled to get only such information which can be accessed by the Public Authority under any other law for the time being in force. The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in “Poorna Prajna Public School Vs. Central Information Commission” has held that the term 'held by or under the control of any public authority' in Section 2(j) of the RTI Act has to be read in a manner that it effectuates and is in harmony with the definition of the term 'information' as defined in Section 2(f). The said expression used in Section 2(j) of the RTI Act should not be read in a manner that it negates or nullifies definition of the term 'information' in Section 2(f) of the RTI Act. The Hon’ble High Court held that a private body need not be a public authority and the said term 'private body' has been used to distinguish and in contradistinction to the term 'public authority' as defined in Section 2(h) of the RTI Act. Thus, information which a public authority is entitled to access, under any law, from private body, is `information’ as defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act and has to be furnished. It was further held by the Hon’ble High Court that the term 'third party' includes not only the public authority but also any private body or person other than the citizen making request for the information. The School is a private body and a third party under Section 2(n) of the RTI Act.
17. It thus can be concluded that the Pinnacle School is a third party and is under the control of the respondent herein. As to the third party’s contention that the Delhi Education Act and the Rules framed thereunder do not provide for disclosure of information, on perusal of the said provision, it is found that various clauses of Rule 50 of the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973, in particular clauses (xviii) and (xix), are relevant for the present controversy.
20. The issues relating to management and regulation of schools responsible for promotion of education are so important for development that it cannot be left at whims and caprices of private bodies, whether funded or not by the Government. The Director, Directorate of Education should, therefore, ensure compliance of these directions including the order of the First Appellate Authority dated 23.4.2008. In case the School in question fails to cooperate in the matter, appropriate action under relevant rules should be initiated for de-recognition of the school activities. A compliance report should be submitted at the earliest.

1 comment:

Ashutosh Bhakuni said...

Thanks for the info!
A few questions:
1. Does it mean that private schools anywhere in India come under RTI?
2. Can the RTI to private school be applied directly or has to be applied through the relevant government authority like Directorate of Education?
3. Can any person apply RTI to private school or current and former employees?