Information regarding the affiliation granted by UGC to Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University, Bhopal to conduct certain Programme & issues related thereto - CIC: Secretary, UGC to re-examine the RTI application & give a clear, cogent and precise reply
O R D E R
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information regarding the affiliation granted by UGC to Madhya Pradesh Bhoj (Open) University, Bhopal to conduct Home Science (Clothing and Textiles) Ph.D Programme and issues related thereto. The CPIO, vide its letter dated 31.01.2017 while enclosing a copy of the letter dated 31.01.2017 stated that as per the UGC (Minimum Standards and Procedure for award of M.Phil/ Ph.D. Degree) Regulation, 2009, no University/ Institution/ Deemed to be University and College/ Institution of National Importance shall conduct M. Phil/ Ph. D. programme through Distance Education Mode. Dissatisfied due to non-receipt of any response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 13.02.2017, concurred with the CPIOs response.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present:
Appellant: Mr. Pradeep Khare along with his wife Dr. Archana Khare through VC;
The Respondent remained absent during the hearing. The Appellant reiterated the contents of his RTI application and stated that complete and satisfactory information had not been received. It was articulated that the Respondent deflected the issue raised in the RTI application and instead gave a casual reply against the information sought by him. The Commission observed that a clear, precise and cogent response ought to be provided against RTI application. As per the provisions of Section 7 (8) (i) of the RTI Act, 2005, where a request for disclosure of information is rejected, the CPIO shall communicate the reasons for such rejection.
In this context a reference can also be made to the judgement of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court in Mujibur Rehman vs Central Information Commission (W.P. (C) 3845/2007)(Dated 28 April, 2009) wherein it had been held as under:
“14.......The court cannot be unmindful of the circumstances under which the Act was framed, and brought into force. It seeks to foster an "openness culture" among state agencies, and a wider section of "public authorities" whose actions have a significant or lasting impact on the people and their lives. Information seekers are to be furnished what they ask for, unless the Act prohibits disclosure; they are not to be driven away through sheer inaction or filibustering tactics of the public authorities or their officers. It is to ensure these ends that time limits have been prescribed, in absolute terms, as well as penalty provisions. These are meant to ensure a culture of information disclosure so necessary for a robust and functioning democracy.”
Furthermore, the Hon’ble Delhi High Court decision in J P Aggarwal v. Union of India (WP (C) no. 7232/2009 it has held that:
“The PIO is expected to apply his / her mind, duly analyse the material before him / her and then either disclose the information sought or give grounds for non-disclosure.”
The Respondent was not present to contest the submissions of the Appellant or to substantiate their claims further.
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by the Appellant, the Commission directs Secretary, UGC to re-examine the RTI application and give a clear, cogent and precise reply to the Appellant within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order.
The Appeal stands disposed accordingly.
Citation: Mr. Pradeep Khare v. University Grants commission in Second Appeal No.:- CIC/UGCOM/A/2017/137955-BJ, Date of Decision: 31.08.2018