The Gujarat High Court, Thursday, concluded hearing on a petition of Gujarat University seeking quashing of an order passed by the Central Information Commission (CIC) that directed the varsity to provide a copy of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s masters’ degree to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The court has reserved the matter for orders.
In 2016, the varsity had filed a petition challenging the CIC order in which the university was directed to provide information on Modi’s degree under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
On Thursday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, for the university, contended that no student’s degree could be disclosed under the RTI as it violated the privacy of the individual.
Mehta submitted that information about the Prime Minister’s degrees was “already in the public domain” and the university had also placed the details on its website in the past, and claimed the 2005 Act was being used for settling scores and to make “childish jabs” for political purposes.
Citing some past judgments of the Supreme Court and by other High Courts about the exemptions granted under Section 8 of the RTI Act, the solicitor general held that one could not seek someone’s personal information “just because you are curious about it.”
“One can seek information if it falls in the category of larger public interest. But, you cannot seek private information not related to my public activity. Just because the public is interested in it, it cannot become public interest. Courts’ interpretation has established that education qualification is personal information, whether it is of a politician or any other person,” he put forward his argument before Justice Biren Vaishnav.
Responding to the same, senior advocate Percy Kavina, appearing for Kejriwal, told the court that information about the Prime Minister’s degrees was not available in the public domain as claimed by the solicitor general.