Landmark HC order: Trusts managing educational institutions are covered under RTI
An application was filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act seeking some information on the Shikshan Prasarak Mandali - a public trust managing several aided educational institutions in Pune. In 2009, the trust denied the information sought by Advocate Bhalchandra Radkar stating that the provisions of the RTI Act were not applicable to it.
After hearing the matter on appeal, the Maharashtra State Information Commission (SIC) had held that the trust was covered under the legislation and directed it to disclose the sought information. The trust challenged the order of the state information commission in the Bombay high court.
It was argued on the part of the trust that though several educational institutions managed and controlled by the trust received grant-in-aid from the state government, the trust receives no government aid. Therefore, the trust is not covered under the RTI Act and is not required to respond to applications under the RTI Act. Justice Dharmadhikari of the High Court contended that an educational institute and the trust managing it are not separate legal entities as the power to utilise the grant received from by the institutions from the government lies with the managing committee of the trust and ruled that public trusts managing aided educational institutes fall under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, 2005.