• The private medical colleges in Rajasthan have been brought within the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, following an order of the State Information Commission, which has imposed a fine of Rs. 25,000 on the principal of Geetanjali Medical College in Udaipur for flouting the transparency law and refusing to provide information.
• Allowing an appeal against the medical college, the Information Commission held in its recent order that the State government had allotted land to the institution at concessional rates and the college was established under a law passed by the State Legislature.
• Based on these facts, the college falls within the purview of the RTI Act.
• The college is governed by the rules and regulations framed by the State government.
• The Commission’s first-of-its-kind order has paved the way for citizens to seek information under the RTI Act from the educational institutions which have obtained land for their buildings and campuses at concessional rates from the State government.
• The appellant had filed his plea with the Commission, pointing out that Geetanjali Medical College had not attached any importance to his RTI application filed on August 7, 2019, seeking information on his nephew’s admission.
• Despite the Commission issuing notices three times with the warning of action under the RTI Act, the college did not respond.
• The appellant submitted the documents pertaining to allotment of land to the college and the legislation having been passed by the State Assembly.
• Appellant also cited a judgment of the Supreme Court in the D.A.V. College case, holding that the institutions like schools, colleges and hospitals which received “substantial aid” from the government in the form of land at discounted rate were bound to give information to the citizens under the RTI Act.
• The Information Commission accepted the appellant’s contention that the non-government organisations receiving financing from the government were a public authority under the provisions of the RTI Act.
• While imposing penalty on the principal, the Commission directed the college to provide information on its decision and action taken on six points raised by the RTI applicant within the stipulated time frame.
Mains Paper 2: Governance
Prelims level: RTI Act
Mains level: Important aspects of governance, transparency and accountability citizens charters, transparency and accountability and institutional and other measure