Gujarat HC Orders Single Judge Bench To Hear Modi’s Degree Case

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Ahmedabad: A division bench of High Court on Tuesday ordered hearing by a single-judge bench on a Gujarat University petition seeking quashing of a Central Information Commission order to provide information on Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s educational degree to AAP leader Arvind Kejriwal.

The division bench comprising Chief Justice R Subhash Reddy and Justice V M Pancholi rejected the request of GU counsel and Additional Solicitor General Tushar Mehta to let the division bench hear the petition.

The High Court said the bench of Justice S H Vora should hear the matter as it is pending before it. Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal’s lawyer I H Syed objected to GU’s submission saying the single-judge bench, to which the petition was originally moved, should decide the matter on merit so that either party gets a chance to challenge the order before a higher division bench. Advocate Syed also submitted that he cannot afford to lose his right to appeal to a higher bench in case the order goes against him.

Earlier, the division bench had stayed the CIC order after the single-bench of Justice Vora turned down GU’s petition seeking interim stay. Arguing for hearing by a division bench, Additional Solicitor General Mehta said GU had already published the degree of PM on its website and by doing so it has consented to the proceedings only on legal grounds and as matter of principles. He contended there was a lack of jurisdiction on part of the CIC to issue an order for providing information on PM Modi’s degree to Mr Kejriwal.

Apart from Information Commissioner M Sridhar Acharyulu, Kejriwal and Centre government are the respondents in the case. GU had challenged the April 29 order of CIC directing it to provide information on PM Modi’s degree to Mr Kejriwal under RTI, saying it was not heard in the matter and hence the principle of natural justice was violated. Mr Kejriwal had written to Mr Acharyulu saying he had no objection to government records about him being made public and wondered why the Commission wants to “hide” information on PM Modi’s educational degree.

The Information Commissioner had treated Mr Kejriwal’s letter as an RTI application and passed the order.

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