Has DU Been Withholding Information?

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After an Right to Information (RTI) inquiry was denied to a teacher by the College of Vocational Studies (CVS) regarding the alleged “irregularities” in the purchase of library books, the Central Information Commission (CIC) said that the college seemed to be “withholding information” and had “failed to regard the tenets of probity and transparency”.

According to a report issued in September 2020, 180 books worth Rs. 1 lakh had been bought for the DU library but never reached it. In March this year, Retd. Delhi High Court judge Justice S. N. Dhingra, upheld that there had been “irregularities” in the accounts and indicted the principal for hushing up the matter.

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Anand Kumar had filed the RTI in March 2019 seeking details of the purchase of the books, their accession numbers, and the exchange rate at which foreign books were purchased for the period 2010-18.

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In response, the CPIO said, “It is to be mentioned that the information requested by the applicant is not maintained in the manner requested by the applicant as it is not required to be maintained for the day to day functioning of the college. Compilation of such information exclusively for the applicant would disproportionately divert the resources of the office concerned which is not required under the Act.”

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A second report was filed with CIC, which claimed that CVS should have instead offered an inspection on the matter as this lies against the spirit of the RTI act.

“The outright refusal of the CPIO to provide the information, even the information about the exchange rate of the books, regarding which a relevant input has been provided by the Respondent only before the hearing, suggests a rather evasive and labored approach of the Respondent office in withholding the information given the alleged context in which the instant RTI Application has been filed by the Appellant.” This was the response from the CIC Officer in charge.

However, a compromise of time and date was made. Instead of the eight-year report suggested by Kumar, only the data from 2016 to 2018 was made available.

While Delhi University Vice-Chancellor P. C. Joshi could not be reached for comment, Principal Inderjeet Dagar said, “I have directed the CPIO to look into the matter as per the directions of the CIC and the said process is ongoing, and we are also seeking legal recourse on the same. The college has always respected the spirit of the RTI and always provided information. Even to serial applicants filing 500 RTI applications.” (via Indian Express)


Read more: https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/delhi/cic-raps-delhi-universitys-college-of-vocational-studies-for-denying-info-to-rti-applicant-7267607/

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