On March 31, the Gujarat High Court set aside the Chief Information Commission’s (CIC) 2016 order directing the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), Gujarat University and Delhi University to furnish details of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s graduation and post-graduation degrees.
The Court was hearing an appeal filed by Gujarat University challenging the CIC’s order and ruled that the PMO does not need to furnish Modi’s degree and post-graduate degree certificates. Furthermore, the Court imposed costs of Rs 25,000 on Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader and Delhi’s Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal who sought Modi’s degree and post-graduate degree certificates.
Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) spokesperson Shehzad Poonawala said, “Lying & making obnoxious remarks, peddling lies against the chair of the PM has become a fashion & Kejriwal is in strong competition with Rahul Gandhi in this regard. But today he has been shown his place by High Court! Hope Kejriwal ji doesn’t make scurrilous comments on judiciary like Rahul now! That would count as being ‘literate and yet uneducated.
Arvind Kejriwal’s counsel Percy Kavina said, “If you see the nomination form (filed during elections), it mentions his educational qualifications. Thus, we are asking for a degree certificate and not his marksheet.
The Gujarat University’s counsel Solicitor General (SG) Tushar Mehta argued that disclosing a student’s degree under the RTI violates the right to privacy of an individual. Furthermore, he submitted that information about Modi’s qualifications is in the public domain and the university has posted information about the same on its website in the past.
He said, “In a democracy, there won’t be a difference if a person holding the office is a doctorate or an illiterate. Also, there is no public interest involved in this issue. Even his privacy is affected,” Bar and Bench reported.
SG Tushar Mehta cited the exceptions to the RTI Act as the reason for non-compliance with the CIC’s order. Furthermore, he alleged that the RTI Act is being used to settle scores and make childish jabs against political opponents. According to Modi, he graduated from Gujarat University in 1978 and post-graduation from Delhi University in 1983.