Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Want to Know Fees Collected by Delhi Pvt Schools? Wait for 1,435 RTI Replies

News18: New Delhi: Wednesday, May 24, 2017.
How many RTI replies do you expect to get when you want to know about the total fees collected by the private schools in Delhi, and how they spent this money? Anything, but not 1,435.
But this is what you have to go through if the Delhi government has its way. The government’s Directorate of Education (DoE) has resorted to a mindboggling course when it was asked questions under the Right to Information (RTI) Act about the income and expenditure of the private schools in Delhi.
A set of straight RTI questions on whether the DoE has the accounts of private schools regarding their income and expenditure would be first forwarded to 11 District education Officers, who in turn will send it to 23 Zonal Education Officers. What happens next is baffling they forward it to 1400 private schools for directly sending replies to the RTI applicant.
So one application is processed by at least 1,435 individual authorities and based on how they reply, you will be compelled to file as many appeals. The exercise thus is not just exhaustive but eventually it will make sure you never have full details of what private schools actually earn and how they spend the money.
Shikha Bagga, secretary of NGO ‘Justice for All’, has now dragged the government to the Delhi High Court over what she called an attempt to frustrate the objective of the RTI Act. Bagga, through her lawyer Khagesh Jha, pointed out that there was no provision in the transparency law to transfer an application to different officers in the same public authority and therefore it was illegal to move her application to District and Zonal Education officers in the DoE.
“The respondent (DoE) is duty-bound to provide the requisite information to the petitioner under Right to Information Act, 2005, but either he has misinterpreted the Act or deliberately has been misguiding the people seeking information with his malpractices and the malafide intention for not providing the information, thereby defeating the purpose of the RTI Act, 2005,” stated the petitioner.
Advocate Jha asserted that the DoE was obligated to have information about the fees collected by the private schools and their expenditure, apart from furnishing information about auditing the accounts of these institutions as per the HC order.
Accepting the submissions, a HC bench of Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva questioned the modus operandi of the DoE and directed it to come clear whether it has the requisite information or not. The judge issued a notice to the DoE and sought its response by Wednesday on whether it has collected such information or not.