The Delhi University on Thursday contended before the Delhi High Court that the RTI Act has been reduced to a "joke" with queries seeking records of all students who had passed BA examination in 1978, including that of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The submission was made before Justice AJ Bhambhani who fixed the matter for further hearing on February 4, when other similar petitions were also listed.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, appearing for DU, said, "The RTI Act has been reduced to a joke with such queries. Degrees of two public functionaries were sought. One is the honourable prime minister and the other is a minister."
Referring to some of the provisions of the Right To Information (RTI) Act, the law officer said personal information is never to be given unless there is some public interest.
"This (Act) cannot be used for some extraneous reasons," he said while giving an overview of the issue to the judge who was new to the matter.
He also said these degrees were already in the public domain at different forums and there was nothing to hide but "we should not reduce the Act to this level".
The court was hearing the DU's plea challenging a Central Information Commission (CIC) direction to allow inspection of the university''s records of all students who had passed BA examination in 1978.
The CIC had directed the DU to allow inspection of records related to all the students who had passed BA degree in 1978, the year in which, according to the university, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had also cleared the examination.
The CIC had rejected the contention of the central public information officer of the university that it was a third party personal information, saying it finds "neither merit, nor legality" in it.
The court had on January 23, 2017 put on hold the operation of the CIC order.
In the affidavit filed through central government standing counsel Arun Bhardwaj, the DU had earlier said the result of a student once declared is accessible only to that student and is "personal" to her or him.
The varsity had said that disclosure of exam results of all the students could lead to "public embarrassment" of some or may cause "disturbance" of his/her routine life.
It had said the information was held in a fiduciary capacity and was exempt from disclosure under the RTI Act.
It had also said that a separate mechanism is available for other institutions which want to verify the results or degrees of a student who has passed out from the DU.