New Delhi: The Central Information Commission today issued an order instructing the Secretary, Department of Elementary Education under the Union Ministry of Human Resource Development to examine and bring about a clarity on the status of the Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations (CISCE) and the schools affiliated with it for the benefit of all the stakeholders.
The order passed by Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka spells out a fixed deadline for completing this exercise.
The order says: “This exercise should be done within a period of 3 months from the date of issue of this advisory. At the same time, it is in the interest of CISCE and the schools affiliated with it to suo-motu disclose the details sought by the Appellant/Complainant in their own interest to maintain credibility and sensitivity of the most pious area of nation building i.e. the field of education.”
The order comes in response to a Complainant by Gaurav Gupta. He had submitted an RTI application on 30 August 2016 seeking information on 3 points regarding the action taken on his complaint dated 30.07.2016 pertaining to the CISCE school running under Ministry of Human resource Development without affiliation since 2003, the details of School Management Committee of St. George College unit 01, 3 Garden Road near Baluganj, Agra (U.P) and its balance sheet, and educational qualification, age proof and salary details of the Principal and other related issues.
The CPIO had responded to this complaint on 26 September 2016 by informing the complainant that the original application had not been received in their Section. The complainant was also informed that the CISCE was a private board and no information related to this board was available in School-3 Section. However, the RTI application was forwarded to the CISCE for providing the desired information. Dissatisfied by the reply of the CPIO, the Complainant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA), who informed him through an order on 15 September 2016 that the Council was not a “public Authority” as defined under the RTI Act, 2005 and therefore the council had not appointed any Public Information Officer (PIO) or an FAA as per the provisions of the RTI Act,2005. A reference was also made to the decisions of the Delhi High Court and Allahabad High Court in this regard.
The Commission, in its order, has acknowledged that in two related applications the issues relating to the implementation of the RTI Act 2005 had been technically complied with. The judicial pronouncements by the Courts that CISCE was not a Public Authority as per Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act, 2005 has also been taken into consideration by the CIC. The Commission has focused attention on the larger issue of the status of the private institutions imparting education to the children and the CIC order goes on to point out that this has remained unanswered.
The order by the CIC also goes on to underscore: “the matter under consideration involved a critical and significant issue relating to the larger public interest involving the future of students studying in the schools affiliated to CISCE which were not recognised by Ministry of Human Resource Development or any of the bodies owned or controlled by it. Nonetheless thousands of students, teachers and parents engaged in this entire exercise ought to be aware of the identity and the status of the institution they were serving and their rights and obligations discharged in the public interest. The Commission cannot be seen as a mute spectator by the technical fulfilment of the provisions of the RTI Act 2005, totally ignoring the most pertinent and larger public interest involved therein.”
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