Bhanu P Lohumi
Tribune News Service
Shimla, December 5
Taking a serious notice of Manav Bharti University not giving satisfactory explanation to the show-cause notice issued by the State Information Commissioner (SIC) regarding non-supply of information sought under RTI Act, the Commission has imposed a penalty of Rs 10,000 on the university and directed it to supply the information, free of cost to the applicant within a week.
RTI activist Rahul Parashar had sought information whether the university has issued M Tech degree MBU-1010-8919, (batch 2010-12) and if any such degree had been issued, he sought the details of the person.
The RTI was filed with the PIO on December 3, 2018 but there was response and the applicant filed appeal with first appellate authority on January 4, 2019 but it was not heard and the second appeal was filed on May 1, 2019.
It had rejected the plea of the respondent university that it was not bound to part with the information under Section 8 (1) (e), (j) and Section 11 of the RTI Act. The Commission said that the facts of the case clearly state that the Public Information Officer (PIO) has denied the information under above said sections and not implemented the orders of the commission and HP Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission, Shimla in spite of the directions to produce complete relevant record of the case.
The plea of the respondents in denying the information on the strength of provisions of section 11 of RTI Act, 2005, is not applicable as he sought information is otherwise also required to be disclosed on the website of the university under the RTI Act, 2005 and orders of Chairman, HP Private Educational Institutions Regulatory Commission issued on April 1, 2016.
The Commission viewed that the information sought by the appellant did not infringe upon the privacy of a third party and it closely relates with the discharge of duties and has definite ramification of promoting transparency and accountability in the larger public interest and to make educational institutions accountable the to contain corrupt practices.
“The information neither falls in the category which can be exempted from disclosure under the garb of personal information nor on the grounds that the disclosure of the same has a relation to public activity or interest and which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of an individual”, the Commission said while disposing the appeal.
Taking notice of the fact that no action has been taken on the RTI application/first appeal by either the PIO or the First Appellate Authority, the Commission vide its interim order October 3, 2019 issued show cause notice to the PIO to explain as to why penalty should not be imposed under section 20(1) of the RTI Act, 2005 and directed that the reply to the show cause notice should be submitted by the PIO on or before the next date of hearing on November 4, 2019.
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