Pvt schools info can be accessed under RTI: CIC

Private recognised schools cannot claim exemption from disclosing information to Education Directorate under Right to Information Act, a full bench of the Central Information Commission has held.

New Delhi: Private recognised schools cannot
claim exemption from disclosing information to Education
Directorate under Right to Information Act, a full bench of
the Central Information Commission has held thus virtually
bringing them under the ambit of transparency law.

"The issues relating to management and regulation of
schools responsible for promotion of education are so
important for development that it cannot be left at whims and
caprices of private bodies, whether funded or not by the
Government," the bench said in its order deciding on
disclosure of service records of a teacher employed at a
private school.

Bindu Khanna, a teacher at Pinnacle School at Panchsheel
Enclave, had filed an RTI application with Education
Directorate seeking to know her service records. But despite
orders of the Directorate to provide the details, the school
maintained that it was a private body and hence the Act was
not applicable on it.

The school cited sections of the law which exempt the
disclosure of personal information.

The Commission said various clauses of Delhi School
Education Rules, 1973 say that "all records" of a private
recognised school are open to inspection by any officer
authorised by the Director or the appropriate authority at any
time.

The records provided to Education Department by the
schools can be accessed by an RTI applicant, it said.

"Information which a public authority is entitled to
access, under any law, from private body, is `information` as
defined under Section 2(f) of the RTI Act and has to be
furnished," the Commission said in its order rejecting the
claims of the School.

Quoting a High Court order in this regard, the bench
said the term `third party` includes not only the public
authority but also any private body or person other than the
citizen making request for the information.

"The School is a private body and a third party under
Section 2(n) of the RTI Act. It thus can be concluded that the
Pinnacle School is a third party and is under the control of
the respondent (Education Directorate) herein," it said.

The bench comprising Information Commissioner Shailesh
Gandhi, Satyananda Mishra and M M Ansari held that orders
passed by the Education Directorate directing the third party
to provide complete information to the appellant are perfectly
in compliance with the Provisions of the Act.

"The third party (Pinnacle School) is hence obliged to
comply with the said orders... In case the School in question
fails to cooperate in the matter, appropriate action under
relevant rules should be initiated for de-recognition of the
school activities," it said.

PTI