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Prime Minister Modi degree row: Gujarat High Court stays CIC order

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The Gujarat High Court on Friday issued a stay on the Central Information Commission (CIC) order asking the Gujarat University (GU) to provide details of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s MA degree. The court also issued fresh notices to CIC chief M Sridhar Acharyulu for passing the order and Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal for demanding the records.

The court bench included Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice VM Pancholi who stayed the orders on demand of Gujarat University.

The GU had earlier approached a single bench of Justice SH Vora on June 20 seeking a stay on the CIC order, but it later approached the division bench after it failed to get relief from the court.

The University in an application has stated that it is not a party to any of the proceeding before the Information Commission. Hence, the order of the CIC is adverse to the interest of the University. It further stated that the jurisdiction of CIC extended to the public authority under the Union Government while the university fell beyond its jurisdiction. So the order of CIC is “patently erroneous and requires to be quashed and set aside”.

The university also claimed that “no notice of hearing has been served to it and the order is passed by CIC without hearing it. There is no application given by Kejriwal before the information officer of GU, nor is there any complaint made against the GU before the Information Commission, Gujarat”.

The GU, while citing the Right to Information (RTI) Act provisions, argued that Kejriwal had not sought any information directly from the university. Also, the CIC was not an authority constituted under the RTI Act for the purpose of any information to be supplied by the varsity, it claimed.

The CIC on April 29, had directed Delhi University and Gujarat University to provide information on degrees earned by PM Modi to Kejriwal, who had criticised the functioning of the transparency panel. The order came a day after he wrote a letter to Acharyulu questioning the impartiality of the functioning of the commission.

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