RTI query on caste reservation in Education: CIC takes serious note of casual reply by MHRD

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New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has taken serious note of a routine and casual reply furnished by the Ministry of Human Resource Development in reponse to an RTI application seeking information on three queries seeking details of the provision of caste reservation, if any in the education sector under the Constitution of India, any amendments carried out, if any, relating to the abovementioned query and other related matters.

Central Information Commissioner Bimal Julka, issued an order today directing Secretaries MHRD (D/o Higher Education and D/o Elementary Education) and Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment to personally address the RTI queries and submit a reply through their authorized representative within a period of 15 days from the date of receipt of the order. The Secretary, D/o Higher Education (MHRD) has been instructed to coordinate the action taken in this matter.

The CIC order categorically states that that the appellant, C. P. Gupta, had raised a pertinent issue in respect of the reservation in education under the Constitution of India and amendments made therein, if any.

The Respondent, on 19 March 2018, had stated that the RTI application had been forwarded to the concerned Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of the Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment on 7 November 2016. The first appeal had also been transferred to the concerned department on 2 January 2017. Subsequently, the notice for hearing before the Commission was also forwarded to the concerned department for further action.

The Central Informtion Commission order says: “It is therefore, evident that the CPIO, MHRD had not understood the relevance and significance of the RTI query raised by the Appellant and therefore, a routine and casual reply had been furnished by the Ministry in normal course. In the written submission of 19 March 2018, it was submitted by MHRD that the subject matter was referred to Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment, Govt. of India. Needless to add that the Respondent had not addressed the RTI queries appropriately.”

Interim Decision

The Commission, in its interim order has instructed the Secretaries of MHRD to convene periodic conferences and seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.

The Dy. Registrar of the Commission also has been instructed to schedule another short date for hearing in the matter wherein the representative of Secretary D/o Higher Education and Secretary, D/o Elementary Education and Secretary, Ministry of Social Justice and Empowerment have been instructed to be present.

The CPIO, Department of Higher Education, MHRD through its reply on 8 November 2016 stated that the information sought did not pertain to their department, therefore, no information could be provided to him. Subsequently, the CPIO, US, (Policy Decision-1 Section) Department of Higher Education, MHRD, also stated that the information sought did not pertain to their department. Furthermore, the CPIO, Under Secretary (Administration) had stated on dated 16 November 2016 that the information sought was not their subject matter. Subsequently, CPIO, D/o Higher Education, through its reply on 15 November 2016 stated that the information sought by the Appellant did not pertain to their section therefore, the same should be considered as NIL. Dissatisfied with the response, the Appellant approached the First Appellate Authority (FAA). The order of the FAA is not on record of the Commission.

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