This Article is From Apr 01, 2023

"Appeal To Trigger Controversy": Court Fines Arvind Kejriwal In PM Degree Case

The Gujarat High Court also fined Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Rs 25,000 for asking for the details.

The Gujarat University was asked to furnish information on PM Modi's Master's degree in 2016.

New Delhi:

An order to the Gujarat University to reveal details of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's degrees was set aside today by the High Court, which said the information is not relevant to the PM's role.

Gujarat High Court Justice Biren Vaishnav also fined Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal Rs 25,000 for asking for these details when they are already in public domain.

"The insistence of Arvind Kejriwal to get the educational degree of Prime Minister Narendra Modi through RTI route, when the same is already available in the public domain, creates doubt on Kejriwal's bonafide and motive. Arvind Kejriwal doubtlessly used an appeal against him to kickstart and trigger a controversy not falling within the purview of the RTI Act for the objects and purpose this court need not go into," Justice Vaishnav said in strong remarks.

In 2016, responding to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) leader's RTI (Right to Information) request for details on the Prime Minister's education, then Central Information Commission M Sridhar Acharyulu, as reported by Live law, directed the Prime Minister's Office (PMO), Gujarat University and Delhi University to furnish information on PM Modi's graduation and post-graduation degrees.

The Gujarat University put up PM Modi's degree on its website immediately, but at the same time, challenged the Information Commission's order as a matter of principle.

The ruling BJP also shared copies of what it said were the Prime Minister's degrees - a Bachelor of Arts from Delhi University and a Master of Arts in Political Science from Gujarat University. Mr Kejriwal had then claimed there were "glaring discrepancies" in the documents.

In the Gujarat High Court last month, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the two universities should not be compelled to disclose the information.

"In a democracy, there won't be a difference if a person holding the office is a doctorate or an illiterate. Also, there is no public interest involved in this issue. Even his privacy is affected," the top government lawyer said, insisting that the information on the PM's degrees had no bearing on his role.

"We cannot be asked to furnish the information to satisfy someone's childish and irresponsible curiosity," Mr Mehta said.

The Solicitor General also said any information requested under RTI should be related to public activity. "They cannot ask what breakfast I had. But yes, they can ask what amount was spent for the breakfast," he remarked.

Mr Kejriwal's lawyer countered that election nomination forms listed educational qualifications and it was a legitimate ask. "We are asking for a degree certificate, not his marksheet," said Percy Kavina.

The court order adds to the controversy over AAP's aggressive campaign highlighting the PM's education. The party has put up posters in many cities targeting PM Modi.

Mr Kejriwal, asked to pay the fine within four weeks, tweeted: "Does the country not have the right to know how educated their Prime Minister is? They vehemently opposed revealing his degree in court. Why? And the person asking to see the degree will be fined? What is happening? An uneducated or less educated PM is dangerous for the country."

The BJP accused the Delhi Chief Minister of misrepresenting facts and acting out of "frustration" over corruption allegations against his ministers.

"The history is repeating itself today...It is not a new thing for Kejriwal or his party," said BJP spokesperson Sambit Patra.