The Central Information Commission (CIC) was recently informed that Union minister Smriti Irani had refrained Delhi University from disclosing information related to her degree, the School of Open Learning (SOL). The commission has now directed SOL to produce all documents related to Irani’s educational qualification as a show-cause notice was issued on January 10 to the central public information officer of DU for having failed to produce the records before. The SOL cited two exemption clauses -personal information and fiduciary information -under the RTI Act to deny the information.
The CIC also recently ordered CBSE to allow inspection of files related to Irani’s Class 10 and Class 12 records. Irani’s degrees were questioned when a petitioner alleged that she had given contradictory information. According to the petitioner, in her affidavit for the 2004 Lok Sabha polls, Irani had said she completed her BA in 1996 from DU (School of Correspondence as SOL was then called), whereas in another affidavit on July 11, 2011 to contest Rajya Sabha election from Gujarat, she said her highest educational qualification was BCom Part I, a petitioner had alleged in court. Although the matter was dismissed by the court, but an applicant produced records related to Irani’s education, bringing the issue to limelight.
“In her response, (she) raised objection against (sic) disclosure and requested the public authority not to reveal her educational qualification. The CPIO pleaded that information sought was given by the former HRD minister in fiduciary capacity and hence could not be divulged as per Section 8(1)(e),” information commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu said in his order.
Although chief information commissioner RK Mathur diverted Acharyulu of the HRD ministry portfolio, two days after he ordered disclosure of records of the BA course of 1978, the year in which PM Narendra Modi is said to have graduated from DU, he will continue to adjudicate matters in which he has already issued notices and is finalising orders.
The petitioner had asserted to know from SOL whether Irani had obtained her BA degree in 1996 and passed BCom Part I in 1994 from DU. He requested for photocopies of her hall-ticket, marksheets and admission form with enrolment number, in case she enrolled herself for the course but did not obtain the degree. The petitioner interrogates if she was enrolled in DU in 2013 and why she did not take any examination.