Can the inspection of the infrastructural facilities of Government schools be done under RTI?
The appellants were working for a NGO and had filed a petition against noncompliance of the Central Information Commission’s decision dated 29.07.2011. The Commission had directed the Directorate of Education to ensure that certain documents/registers should be made available for inspection by citizens on last working day of each month by all schools of the department. The appellants petitioned that the school authorities do not allow the NGO members/citizens to enter the Government schools on the stipulated dates for inspection of records even after receiving the circular of Directorate of Education. The respondent stated that following the decision of the Commission, they had allowed the parties to inspect the records once. The school authorities later complained that the appellants had started questioning the school authorities about the infrastructure facilities in the schools while carrying out the inspection of records, although in the Commission’s order, inspection of infrastructural facilities in the school was not mentioned. Therefore, the Directorate of Education issued a fresh circular stating that no inspection of the infrastructure facilities has not been ordered by any authority and no person was not to be allowed to carry out any inspection or interaction without the prior authorization of the Department. A representative from NGO claimed that the records of the schools often do not reflect the actual physical reality and pleaded that the Commission should consider directing the Directorate of Education to also allow physical verification of infrastructural facilities by citizens while inspecting the records. This view was strongly endorsed by other appellants.
View of CIC
During the hearing, the Directorate of Education categorically stated that their circular was misinterpreted the intention of the circular was to not stop NGOs/citizens from inspecting those records as mentioned in the Commission’s decision. According to the Respondent the circular was issued only to stop the citizens from questioning the school authorities about infrastructural facilities when they went for inspection as there were no such orders from the Commission for the same.
The Commission directed the Directorate of Education to quash the earlier circular and to issue fresh circular clearly giving lists of both records and the physical facilities which can be inspected by any citizen under RTI as also the dates/timings when such inspections can be carried out. The Commission further held that the information seeker shall not be free to question the school authorities about inconsistency/ infirmities/ inadequacies, if any, found in the inspected records or work, at the time of inspection. For this, the information seeker may approach the Public Authority for information following the due course of law.
Citation:Mr.Thomas, Ms.Kiran Bhatty and others v. Directorate of Education in File No: CIC/SG/C/2011/000588AD
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/192
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission