As reported by Arvind Kashyap in on 14 February 2008:
Sanawar school a public authority

Sanawar school a public authority

Solan, February 14 Declaring Lawrence School, Sanawar, a “public authority” under the provision of Right to Information Act, the Central Information Commissioner has directed the authorities of the school to provide all information sought by one of its former teachers, Dr Rajender Kumar Singla, under the Act. Notably, the headmaster of the school had earlier denied certain information sought by Dr Singla under the RTI, claiming that the school did not fall under the purview of the Act. The headmaster, in his reply to the information seeker in February, 2007, giving reference of Section 8 (I) (C) of the Act, stated that the institution has been exempted from disclosure of information under the Act.

The information was sought in the month of December 2006.

However, Dr Singla had contested that the school was directly accountable for its functioning to the Education Secretary, Government of India, who happens to be the ex-officio chairman of the school’s management. Besides, the school is also answerable to the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), which is also a public body. Moreover, the institution is located on government land and is also accountable to many public authorities under various laws. Under such circumstances, school authorities cannot deny any information sought under the provision of RTI Act.

Singla had alleged that officials concerned of the school has allegedly violated the provisions of law by denying information. Singla, whose services were terminated in January 2007 by the school authorities, had sought information concerning a copy of school rules, besides other information.

Talking to mediapersons, Singla said here today that after receiving denial letters from the school headmaster, he had filed an application before the appellate authority at Panchkula, who had also disposed of the case on the plea offered by the headmaster. After this, he had made a second appeal before the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) in May, 2007. He said the CIC, after hearing both sides and examining the relevant documents, ordered that the institution had been substantially funded through grant of government land and it could not accept the contention of respondents that the chairman of Board of Governors would have no say in the management of affairs of the institution.

Further, memorandum of association and regulations of the school have been issued by the Ministry of Education of Government of India on June 26, 1952, and had on its Board of Governors as many as three secretaries to the Government of India, besides other government officials like Director of Public Instruction and District Magistrate.

Declaring the school a “public authority”, the commission finally ordered the headmaster of the school, Assistant Secretary, CBSE, and others to provide the information to Dr Singla before February 20 and cite specific provisions of the RTI Act in case they wish to deny any information asked for by the appellant.

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