Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal has approached Gujarat High Court seeking a review of its recent order setting aside the Central Information Commission’s directive to the Gujarat University to provide information on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s degree to the AAP national convener.
One of the key contentions raised by Kejriwal is that contrary to Gujarat University’s claim that Modi’s degree is available online, no such degree is available on the university’s website.
Following a brief hearing on Friday, Justice Biren Vaishnav admitted Kejriwal’s review petition and kept it for further hearing on June 30. The HC issued a rule to the Gujarat University, Central government and former Chief Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu.
In March, Justice Vaishnav had allowed Gujarat University’s appeal against the CIC order and had also imposed a cost of Rs 25,000 on Kejriwal.
In April 2016, then CIC Acharyulu had directed Delhi University and Gujarat University to provide information to Kejriwal on Modi’s degrees.
The CIC order had come a day after Kejriwal wrote to Acharyulu saying he has no objection to government records about him being made public.
Kejriwal, in the letter, had wondered why the commission wanted to “hide” information on Modi’s educational qualifications.
Based on the letter, Acharyulu directed Gujarat University to give records of Modi’s educational qualifications to Kejriwal.
The Gujarat University had objected to the CIC’s order saying “irresponsible childish curiosity” of someone cannot become public interest under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for the university, had told the HC in February there was nothing to hide in the first place because information about the PM’s degrees was “already in public domain” and that the university had placed the information on its website on a particular date in the past.
In his review petition, Kejriwal said no such degree of PM Modi is available on the varsity’s website. Instead, a document referred to as “Office Register (OR)” is displayed, which is different from a “degree”.
“The applicant submits the said degree is not found on the official website of the Gujarat University and, hence, the judgement suffers from the error apparent on the face of the record and permitting them would lead to failure of justice,” Kejriwal said in his petition.
The AAP chief further said the university’s lawyer had made an oral submission about the degree being available on the website of the university on the last day of hearing and that too without providing any document, due to which the statement could not be verified immediately at the time.