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The Societies Registration Act, 1860
Section 8 in The Societies Registration Act, 1860

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Central Information Commission
Ms Rakesh vs Dav & Ors Public Schools, ... on 20 January, 2010
              CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION
                   (Hearing at UT Chandigarh)

                  File No. CIC/LS/A/2009/000828
         Ms Rakesh Vs DAV & Ors Public Schools, Chandigarh

                                                            Dated : 20.1.2010
       This is in continuation of this Commission's Interim Proceedings dated
11.12.2009

. As scheduled, the matter is called for hearing today dated 19.1.2010 at UT Guest House, Chandigarh.

Principals/Managers/Administrative Officer of the following schools are present :-

"1. K.B. DAV Centenary Public School, Sec. 7, Chd.

2. DAV Public School, Sec. 8, Chd.

3. Carmel Convent School, Sec. 9, Chd.

4. DAV Model Sr. Sec. School, Sec 15, Chd.

5. New Public School, Sec 18, Chd.

6. Shishu Niketan Model Sr. Secondary School, Sec 22, Chd.

7. Sacred Heart Sr. Secondary Public School, Sec. 22, Chd.

8. S.G.G.S. Collegiate Public School, Sec 26, Chd.

9. Bharatiya Vidya Bhawan School, Sec 27, Chd.

10. St. Soldier International Public School, Sec 28, Chd.

11. Guru Nanak Public School, Sec. 36, Chd.

12. Bal Niketan Model Sr. Secondary School, Sec 37, Chd.

13. S.D. Public School, Sec. 32, Chd.

14. Sri guru Harkishan Model Sr. Sec School, Sec.38, Chd.

15. Vivek High School, Sec. 38, Chd.

16. Shivalik Public School, Sec 41, Chd.

17. Ajit Karam Singh International Public School, Sec 41, Chd.

18. St. Xavier School, Sec 44, Chd.

19. Manav Mangal School, Sec 21, Chd.

20. M.D.A.V. High School, Sec 22, Chd.

21. St. John High School, Sec 26, Chd.

22. St. Kabir Public School, Sec 26, Chd.

23. Moti Ram Arya Sr. Sec. School, Sec 27, Chd.

24. Tribune Model School, Sec 29, Chd.

25. St. Anne's Convent School, Sec 28, Chd.

26. S.D. Saini Model School, Sec 28, Chd.

27. Sri Guru Harkrishan Public School, Sec. 40, Chd.

28. C.L. Aggarwal Model School, Sec 7, Chd."

2. Advocate Alka Sarin appears for St. John High School, Sector-26, Chandigarh and advances the following arguments in support of the decisions recorded by CPIO and AA in the matter in hand. First and foremost, she would submit that the School has been filing ITRs before CPIO in Kolkata and, therefore, the appellant is not right in seeking these documents from the CPIO located in Chandigarh as the latter is not the holder of information. She also assails the invocation of section 19 of the Societies Registration Act, relied upon by the appellant on the ground that the Registrar of Societies can, indeed, provide certain documents under this section only if he holds these documents. In other words, the custody of the required documents with the Registrar is a condition precedent. However, the ITRs requested for by the appellant are not in the custody/control of the Registrar of Societies and, therefore, invocation of this section in the matter in hand is irrelevant. She would further submit that the appellant has requested for 'personal' information without indicating any express or manifest public purpose. She would concede that, indeed, under clause (j) of section 8 (1), even personal information can be disclosed if a larger public interest is established but the appellant has neither appeared before the Commission on the previous date of hearing nor today to establish the larger public interest.

3. Furthermore, the school is an unaided minority school and has received no financial assistance whatsoever either from the Central Government or State Government or Chandigarh Administration.

4. Besides, she has also relied on the following 02 decisions of the Central Information Commission to buttress her case :-

(i) File No. CIC/AT/A/2007/01216 dated 24.1.2008 wherein it was held that personal information is not disclosable in terms of section 8 (1) of the RTI Act regardless of whether it pertains to an individual a legal entity.

(ii) File No. CIC/SG/A/2009/000559 dated 18.5.2009 wherein it was held that a private unaided institution is not a 'public authority' and, therefore, it has no liability under the RTI Act to disclose any information.

(iii) File No. CIC/SG/A/2009/001388/4121 dated 14.7.2009 wherein it was held that when the school was not substantially funded by the Central Government or State Government, it could not be held to be a public authority and, therefore, has no liability to disclose information under the RTI Act.

5. The Principals/Managers/Administrative Officers present before the Commission have adopted the arguments advanced by Advocate Alka Sarin. Even so, the salient points made by some of them may be summarised as under.

6. Shri Jasdeep Kalra appearing for AKSIPS (Sr. 17) would submit that the school is an unaided one and, therefore, is not a public authority. He would also submit that as non-appearance of the appellant before the Commission has resulted in the wastage of his time and that of his colleagues as also that of the Commission, penalty should be imposed against the irresponsible appellant.

7. Smt Amrit Daliwal appearing for the Tribune Model School (Sr. No.

24) would submit that her school has been set up to provide free education to the wards of the Tribune employees and charges no fee whatsoever. Besides, it is an unaided school and, therefore, has no liability under the RTI Act.

8. Shri K. Bakshi, Administrative Officer, appearing for Moti Ram Arya Sr. Secondary School (Sr. 23) appearing for school would submit that required information can not be disclosed to the appellant if clauses (d), (e) & (j) of section 8 (1) of the RTI Act are read together. He has also relied on certain decisions of the Commission to buttress his case.

DECISION

9. It may be recalled that the information requested for by the appellant is the Income Tax Returns, Balance-Sheet & Annual Income and Expenditure Statements of the schools mentioned in para 01 of the Commission's proceedings dated 11.12.2009. It is, no doubt, true that this information is 'personal information' and exempted from disclosure, under clause (j) of Section 8 (1). This information can be disclosed only when such disclosure is in the larger public interest. As pleaded by Advocate Alka Sarin, the larger public interest is to be established by the appellant. It is to be noted that ample opportunity has been given to the appellant to establish the larger public interest to seek disclosure of the requested information but she has not availed the same. On this ground alone, the appeal should fail. The appeal is accordingly dismissed.

Sd/-

(M.L. Sharma) Central Information Commissioner Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges, prescribed under the Act, to the CPIO of this Commission.

(K.L. Das) Assistant Registrar