KIC summons to Guv's office

RTI application on awarding honorary doctorates in State varsities rejected

 
The Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) has issued summons to the Public Information Officer of the Governor’s Office for denying information to an applicant. The matter is posted for hearing on October 26 in Bangalore.

The Under Secretary to Governor, who is also the Public Information Officer, has refused to divulge information to an applicant regarding the indiscriminate awarding of honorary doctorate by the State universities, under the RTI Act. This has forced the applicant to file a complaint to the KIC seeking relief under the Act.

Deepak Gala, President of the Hyderabad-Karnataka Environment Awareness and Protection Organisation, filed an application to the Governor’s Office on March 3, 2010, seeking among others a copy of the prescribed guidelines for awarding honorary PhD degrees, procedure followed and the number of honorary degrees awarded in the past five years along with the names of the awardees.

The applicant also wanted to know if any member of the State universities had objected to the awarding of honorary degrees.

The PIO of the Governor’s Office, instead of furnishing information, in his letter dated March 22 stated that the honorary degrees are conferred upon eminent personalities, as per Section 69 of the Karnataka State University Act, 2000.

Though the applicant had sought information only regarding the awarding of honorary doctorates, the PIO stated that PhD degrees are awarded as per the provisions of the Course Regulations framed by the universities.

Also, the PIO advised the applicant to specify the provisions of the sought information. Further, the PIO said the information sought regarding four different aspects was contrary to the provisions of the Rule 14 of the RTI Rules 2005.

He asked the applicant to file separate applications to elicit information about different aspects.

However, baffled over the wrong application of Rule 14, Gala insisted that his queries were specific and pertained only to one subject i.e awarding of honorary doctorates.
In his complaint to the KIC Gala maintained that the PIO had wrongly invoked Rule 14 to refuse information amounting to violation of the RTI Act.

Taking cognisance of the complaint the KIC in its summons to the PIO made it clear that there were sufficient reasons for registering the complaint and hold an inquiry.

While asking the PIO to furnish complete information, failing which the KIC has pointed out that the PIO may be fined Rs 250 per day up to a maximum of Rs 25,000 until the information was furnished.

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