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Sunday, August 3, 2008

And now Army / Navy / Air Force Schools under the RTI Act : CIC

The Central Information Commission has ruled that schools established under welfare societies cannot claim exemption from application of the RTI Act. In a case involving Air Force School Jodhpur, the CIC has reached the conclusion that the school is under the purview of the Act. The CIC has also directed the Station Commander to divulge the requisite information within a period of 10 working days.

In another scathing observation vis-a-vis the same case, the CIC has also come down heavily on Air Force authorities which had the following comments to offer on the issue :-

Air Force : - “it is evident that the appellant is seeking the information for his matrimonial case. He has also not indicated any bonafide public interest in seeking the said information. Thus, the appellant is seeking the information for promotion of his personal interest rather than public.”
The CPIO of the Air Force also buttressed the claim by stating that the school was not a public authority by drawing a parallel quoting a judgement in which it was held that the CSIR was not an instrumentality of the ‘State’ under Article 12 of the Constitution of India.

CIC on the above plea by the Air Force :- “On the other hand we find the arguments submitted in writing by Wg Cmdr Magadum are largely specious. U/s 6 sub-section (2), “An applicant making request for information shall not be required to give any reason for requesting the information” The argument at (e) above is altogether irrelevant. Besides, it is nobody’s case that the School in this case constitutes State under Article 12 of the Constitution. The example of the CSIR is entirely misplaced since the CSIR is indeed a public authority u/s 2(h) of the RTI Act, with a complete infrastructure built assiduously in compliance with the RTI Act, 2005. Wg Cmdr Magadum is advised to visit CSIR’s website to learn more on this.”

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