RTI Act Applies to Deemed Universities Only with Govt Control or Funding: Delhi HC


The Delhi High Court has ruled that a deemed university does not fall under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act unless it is controlled or financed by the government.

The decision came in response to a petition by an RTI applicant seeking details about students who completed MSc in Chemistry through distance learning between 2007 and 2011 from Vinayak Mission University, a deemed university.

The Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) had denied the information, citing that the university is not a “public authority” and that the data pertains to its internal administration. Upholding the CIC’s decision, Justice Subramonium Prasad emphasized that the RTI Act applies to entities, including non-government organizations, that are owned, controlled, or substantially financed by the government. Merely being deemed a university does not classify an institution as a public authority under the act.

“The Petitioner did not establish that the Respondent University is either a government authority or a non-government organization substantially financed by the government. Therefore, the Respondent No. 3 university cannot be considered a ‘public authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and is not subject to its provisions,” the order stated.

The court also noted a recent decision by a Full Bench of the Bombay High Court, which similarly held that mere recognition as a university under Section 3 of the UGC Act does not automatically confer public authority status under the RTI Act.

Regarding the petitioner’s argument that the UGC should provide the information as a custodian and public authority, the court observed that the requested information was personal and exempted under the RTI Act. It further noted that the petitioner failed to demonstrate any overriding public interest that would justify compromising individuals’ privacy.

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