Appellant: I was appointed as Professor CSE at MVSR Engineering College affiliated to Osmania University Hyderabad in Oct 2017 due to impending NBA visit and was assured of being regularized - CIC: Relief sought is outside the scope of RTI Act
Information sought and background of the case:
The Appellant filed RTI application dated 12.03.2019 seeking the following information:
“Appellant was appointed as Professor CSE at MVSR Engineering College Affiliated to Osmania University Hyderabad in October 2017 as there is NBA visit at this college in early 2018 and there were no qualified ratified regular professors of CSE then at MVSREC. Appellant was assured that he will be ratified and regularized before NBA visit and appellant even applied for Osmania University ratification but they did not conduct ratification interview before NBA visit.
After NBA visit is completed in April 2018 and got accredited for 3 years in June 2018 vide letter dt. 9.6.2018 F. No. 11-91-2010-NBA. Subsequently as NBA is completed they used appellant and then thrown him out by giving one sided relieving order dt. 31.12.2018 which is disputed legally. In this regard, provide the following information:-
1. State that after 31.12.2018 did MVSR Engineering College informed CPIO that appellant is relieved from their College till date.
2. Provide the copy of their intimation to CPIO about his relieving on 31.12.2018 if at all they had informed you.
3. Provide the copy of their AAC report for AY 2018-2019 in which appellant is a member just to prove that they are managing MC reports to CPIO.”
The CPIO replied to the appellant on 04.04.2019 stating that- “no such information have been provided by MVSR Engineering College to NBA”
Being dissatisfied, the appellant filed a First Appeal dated 12.04.2019. FAA’s order dated 10.05.2019 stating that as follows:-
“I noticed that PIO did not respond to your query No.3 w.r.t. copy of AAC report for Academic year 2018-19 of MVSR Engineering College. The NBA does not have copy of AAC Report of MVSR Engineering College.”
Feeling aggrieved and dissatisfied, appellant approached the Commission with the instant Second Appeal.
Relevant Facts emerging during Hearing:
The following were present:-
Appellant: Present through audio conference.
Respondent: S. K. Samnol, Consultant & Representative of CPIO present through audio conference.
The Appellant stated that he is aggrieved with the claim of non-availability of the information with NBA as Section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act provides for NBA to direct the concerned college to send his relieving letter to NBA.
The Rep. of CPIO submitted that the information provided to the Appellant is as per the availability of the records and what the Appellant has sought for is in the form of queries. He further reiterated the written submissions sent to the Commission prior to the hearing, relevant extracts of which is reproduced hereunder:
“Since NBA is not an administrative authority in respect of the educational/technical Institutions in the country, they are not required to provide such information to NBA in respect of their programs accredited by NBA. Accordingly, MVSR Engineering College did not inform NBA about relieving of the Appellant from their College on 31/12/2018. As such the reply, dated 04/04/2019 given by the CPIO to the Appellant was correct.
The Response to First Appeal, dated 12/04/2019 was sent to the Appellant, vide letter No. NBA/RTI/2019/04-2798, dated 10/05/2019, wherein the First Appellate Authority (FAA) has ruled out that the information provided by CPIO was correct as MVSR Engineering College neither informed NBA about Appellant relieving from their college nor they are required to provide such information after the accreditation is over. Further, the FAA had noticed that PIO did not respond to your query No.3 w.r.t. copy of AAC report for Academic year 2018-19 of MVSR Engineering College, but, the NBA did not have copy of AAC Report of MVSR Engineering College. In view of above, the appeal was disposed-off.
Accreditation by NBA is a quality assurance scheme for higher technical education, whereby a program in a technical Institution is evaluated to verify that the program continues to meet or exceed the prescribed norms and standards. NBA assesses and accredits professional programs offered at various levels by the Technical Institution. The programs are assessed on the basis of norms and criteria for assessment prescribed by NBA. The accreditation process culminates either in award of accreditation for a specific term to the concerned program of an Institution or in non-accreditation of the program.
It may thus be seen that relieving of a faculty member by the Institution concerned does not have any impact on accreditation status of a program. Para 7 of NBA’s letter No.11-91-2010-NBA, dated 09/06/2018 (Appendix-IV), quoted by the Appellant in Second Appeal, states as follows:
“The accreditation status awarded to the programs as indicated in table in paragraph 2 above is subject to maintenance of the current standards during the period of accreditation. If there are any changes in the status (major changes of faculty strength, organizational structure etc.), the same are required to be communicated to the NBA, with an appropriate explanatory note.“
As per the accreditation process, any changes in the standards and status of an accredited program are received through Compliance Report, containing information of Current Academic Year and two previous Academic Years, which the Institution is required to submit six months prior to end of accreditation period of 3 years granted to the program. Based on the Compliance Report and verification of Data by Expert Committee status of further Accreditation or non-Accreditation is communicated to the Institution.
The information that he had been relieved on 31/12/2018 by the College was already available with the Appellant. He had only asked NBA whether MVSR Engineering College had informed NBA that he (Appellant) had been relieved by the College on 31/12/2018, the reply to question put up to NBA was negative, as the college had not informed NBA for his relieving, therefore, the CPIO and FAA has replied to his (Appellant) RTI application and First Appeal.
Further, through the RTI application, the question was put up by the Appellant to NBA that whether college had informed NBA about his relieving from the college, the reply of which was to be provided by NBA and not by the college. Therefore, the RTI Application was not to be forwarded to MVSR Engineering College for reply. Grievances related to his relieving and other service conditions are addressed by the concerned Administrative and Regulating Authorities such as Affiliating University, Directorate of Technical Education and AICTE and not by NBA.”
The Commission based on a perusal of the facts on record observes that the reply provided by the CPIO to the instant RTI Application is as per the provisions of the RTI Act. In furtherance of the said reply, the representative of the CPIO has adequately clarified the factum of non-availability of information, while the Appellant is insistent upon creation of information which is not the mandate of the RTI Act.
Further, the relief sought for by the Appellant is outside the scope of adjudication of the Commission under RTI Act and the superior Courts have made observations to this effect in a catena of judgments over the course of time.
In particular, reference may be had of a judgment of the Hon'ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of Hansi Rawat and Anr. v. Punjab National Bank and Ors. (LPA No.785/2012) dated 11.01.2013 wherein it has been held as under:
"6. The proceedings under the RTI Act do not entail detailed adjudication of the said aspects. The dispute relating to dismissal of the appellant No.2 LPA No.785/2012 from the employment of the respondent Bank is admittedly pending consideration before the appropriate fora. The purport of the RTI Act is to enable the appellants to effectively pursue the said dispute. The question, as to what inference if any is to be drawn from the response of the PIO of the respondent Bank to the RTI application of the appellants, is to be drawn in the said proceedings and as aforesaid the proceedings under the RTI Act cannot be converted into proceedings for adjudication of disputes as to the correctness of the information furnished."(Emphasis Supplied)
The aforesaid rationale finds resonance in another judgment of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in the matter of Govt. of NCT of Delhi vs. Rajender Prasad (W.P.[C] 10676/2016) dated 30.11.2017 wherein it was held as under:
“6. The CIC has been constituted under Section 12 of the Act and the powers of CIC are delineated under the Act. The CIC being a statutory body has to act strictly within the confines of the Act and is neither required to nor has the jurisdiction to examine any other controversy or disputes.”(Emphasis Supplied)
While, the Apex Court in the matter of Union of India vs Namit Sharma (Review Petition [C] No.2309 of 2012) dated 03.09.2013 observed as under:
“20. …While deciding whether a citizen should or should not get a particular information “which is held by or under the control of any public authority”, the Information Commission does not decide a dispute between two or more parties concerning their legal rights other than their right to get information in possession of a public authority….”(Emphasis Supplied)
Adverting to the aforesaid ratios, no action is warranted in the matter and the Appellant is advised to pursue his grievances, if any, through proper channel.
The appeal is disposed of accordingly.
Citation: National Board of Accreditation in File No: CIC/DHEDU/A/2019/139240, Date of Decision: 22/04/2021