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Information sought under RTI Act cannot be denied citing difficulty in collating it: Delhi HC

May 09,2024

Difficulty in collating information cannot be the grounds for denying details sought under the Right to Information Act, the Delhi High Court has observed.

In a judgment on May 2, Justice Subramonium Prasad said that a public authority cannot justify denying any information to an applicant under the Act by claiming that the details were not available in a single place and that would take time to collate it.

“Efforts have to be made by the department to collate the information and then give it to the respondent,” the court held.

Prasad observed that the objective of the Right to Information Act was to ensure transparency in the functioning of government departments and that this mandate cannot be obstructed by state governments.

The judgment came on a petition filed by the Delhi government against an order of the Central Information Commission.

The commission had asked the state government to provide information under the Act to applicant Prabhjot Singh Dhillon regarding actions taken by the education department against government teachers for conducting private tuitions.

The Delhi government told the High Court that it could not provide such information for unaided schools as it they did not fall within its jurisdiction, reported Bar and Bench. It also said that private unaided schools do not fall under the purview of the Right to Information Act.

The state said that the vigilance arm of the Department of Education had not issued any directions to maintain data on cases of misconduct by government teachers. The High Court rejected the state’s petition.

Prasad remarked that information regarding actions taken against teachers of aided schools would be available with the department, though not in one place, and could be provided to Dhillon.

“[The Delhi School Education Rules, 1973] stipulates that if a School intends to take a major penalty against a teacher then the approval of the Director of Education is necessary and without such an approval any action of major penalty cannot be imposed on the teacher,” the court held. “Therefore, information related to teachers of private unaided schools can be collated from the records of major punishment imposed by such schools.”

Source: Scroll.in

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