Sunday, January 31, 2016

Information on Modi's, Anandiben Patel's educational qualifications not in "public interest": Gujarat CM office

By Our Representative
The Gujarat government is learnt to have turned down a right to information (RTI) plea seeking proof of Prime Minister Narendra Mod’s and chief minister Anandiben Patel’s educational qualifications, saying this information cannot be made available because it does not concern “public interest.”
The RTI applicant, Yogesh B Dave, had reportedly made the application to the Gujarat chief minister’s office (CMO) seeking the information. 
In his reply, the official responsible for replying to RTI affairs in the CMO said, “You’ve asked for the photo copies of educational qualifications of the former chief minister of Gujarat and the current CM. As per the RTI act 2005 8(1), this information is related to personal life of both the post holders.”
The reply added, “This information is not related to any public interest. Therefore, this information cannot be provided without the prior permission of both.”
This is not for the first time that an RTI application was made seeking details of the educational qualifications of Modi, who has claimed he has completed his masters’ degree.
In September, the Gujarat University rejected an RTI request on Modi’s Masters’ degree in just one line, without siting any reason or quoting any provision of the RTI Act for it. The one-line reply said, “Under RTI Act of 2005, this information can’t be made public.”
An Ahmedabad based RTI activist had filed a request before the university asking them to furnish the details on the students, who enrolled there for masters’ degree course between 1981 and 1984.
The RTI activist had said that his request was “for all those students, who attended classes in Master of Arts either via correspondence or regular courses both in English and Gujarati languages.”
The RTI applicant had filed the application without naming Modi, though it is well known that this is the period when Modi claims to have completed his masters’ degree.
Earlier, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) and its appellate authority rejected separate RTI requests seeking to confirm Modi”s educational qualification.
In the reply, the appellate authority SE Rizvi, said, “A public authority is obliged to provide information, which is held in its records and, in the matter in hand where the requisite information does not form part of office records, the contention that the PMO should provide the same is not correct.”
In his request, the RTI activist had sought details of Modi’s “class 10th and 12th and MA (political science).”
An impression is gaining ground that the authorities in Gujarat as well Government of India have been “deliberately” avoiding to reveal details of Modi in any form. 
In June last year, Paragkumar Ashokkumar Patel, a Gujarat citizen, had sought the dates of top Indian tycoon Gautam Adani's visits to Prime Minister Narendra Modi's residence by making an RTI plea (click HERE to read).
The appeal insists, citing section 8(1)(j) of the RTI Act is particularly erroneous, because it "clearly states that if any information is of the nature that is to be disclosed in Parliament, it has to be disclosed to general public."
Claiming that Adani has debt of over Rs 72,000 crore, which is "public money in Indian banks", Patel said, "It is clear that my RTI request is of larger general public interest", yet it has been rejected "citing 8(1) while denying the information."

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