AES files appeal over ruling that it is under RTI purview

AES files appeal over ruling that it is under RTI purview

AES files appeal over ruling that it is under RTI purview

The Ahmedabad Education Society (AES) has filed an appeal in the Gujarat high court against a single-judge benchís decision that the trust falls under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act because it gets government grants for some of its institutions.

AES is one of the oldest and the largest education trusts of the city and runs education institutes as well as a private varsity, Ahmedabad University.

On May 22, a single-judge bench turned down AESís petition against the state information commissionís order that its institute, LD Museum of Indology, is liable to part with information under RTI laws because it is a public authority. The issue arose as soon as the RTI Act came into being in 2005. A year later, AES challenged in the high court its status as a trust falling under the purview of RTI laws.

After a 15-year legal battle, a single-judge bench turned down AESís petition holding that since its institutions receive 100% government grants from the state government, the institute and trust will be covered under the definition of public authority under Section 2(h)(d)(i) of the Act.

AES challenged the order before the division bench and senior advocate Devan Parikh submitted that only seven of its many education institutes receive government grants. These seven institutes have appointed public information officers, but the other institutes are self-financed. These few institutes are not substantially financed. Merely because a few institutes of the trust are run on public money, the entire society cannot be treated as a public authority and the liability of the RTI laws can be thrust upon it.

The HC issued notice to the state government, admitted the appeal and ordered that the effect of the single judgeís order as well as the state information commissionís order remain stayed. The court said that since the information commissionís order has been stayed since 2006, the arrangement may continue.

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