August 07, 2010

CIC: Private schools too under RTI act

NEW DELHI: Private recognized schools cannot claim exemption from disclosing information to Education Directorate under Right to Information Act, a full bench of the Central Information Commission (CIC) has held, thus virtually bringing them under the ambit of the 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 outside RTI purview. It 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 recognized school are open to inspection by any officer authorized 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.

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