For More Info Log on to

Google Groups Subscribe to RTI Group
Browse Archives at

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Saga of victimization of Dhananjay Tripathi, an RTI activist by BHU for seeking info under RTI

Please visit the section on Banaras Hindu University/Reports on for complete file on the matter including CIC decision leading to imposition of fine of Rs 25000 on Registrar, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), Varanasi, and report of CIC directing BHU to Admit Shri Dhananjay Tripathi (R/O: D-25/21-22, Gangal Mahal, Raja Ghat, Varanasi – 221001) in the M.P.E. course for the year 2006-07 with immediate effect.
Excerpts from the Appeal No. CIC/OK/A/2006/00163 Dated, the 7th July, 2006

Shri Yogesh Roy, a student of the Banaras Hindu University (BHU), died on the night of 11.1.05 at Sir Sunder Lal Hospital attached to the University, where he was admitted during the day. The students alleged that Yogesh Ray died due to the negligence of the doctors on duty in the Emergency Ward. This led to rioting at the Hospital leading to police intervention. The then Vice Chancellor of the University asked Prof. Harikesh Singh on 12.1.05 to hold an inquiry into the incidents. He along with the Deputy Registrar (Academic) started the inquiry on 17.1.06 and submitted his report to the Vice Chancellor/Rector on 31.3.05.

Shri Dhananjay Tripathi applied to the PRO, BHU, on 14.10.05 for access to the Prof. Harikesh Singh Inquiry Report into the incident. His application was rejected due to non-submission of the application fee and he was asked on 15.10.05 to address his letter to the Registrar, BHU. He ultimately succeeded in filing his application on 11.11.05 under the RTI Act 2005 when the application fee receipts became available.

Delivering the his decision, Shri O P Kejariwal, Information Commissioner, noted that the file on the subject, called for by the Commission, also shows a tendency on the part of the Registrar to shift the blame for his own shortcomings on the Vice Chancellor of the University. Moreover, the fact that the Registrar added another clause of the RTI long after the initial denial had been sent to the applicant points towards the callous and casual approach of the BHU Registrar while dealing with the applications under the RTI Act.

The Commission directed the Registrar, BHU, to make available a copy of the Inquiry Report of Prof. Harikesh Singh to the Appellant within 15 days and report compliance to this Commission within 21 days of the issue of this Order.

Excerpts from Appeal: No. CIC/OK/A/2006/00163 Dated, the 6th September, 2006

In its hearing on 7th July, 2006, the Central Information Commission had directed the Registrar, Banaras Hindu University (BHU), to provide a copy of the inquiry report of Prof. Harikesh Singh to Shri Dhananjay Tripathi, the Appellant. The Commission also asked the Registrar to show cause why penal provisions of Section 20(1) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 may not be invoked against him for denial of information without any valid and strong reasons.
Prof. Harikesh Singh submitted his report on 31.3.05. However, no action was taken by the University on the Inquiry Report even after 7 months of its submission when the Appellant Shri Dhananjay Tripathi applied to the PRO of the BHU for access to the said Report. The Report was put up to the Executive Council of the BHU on 7th July, 2006 well 15 months after it was submitted to University. Surprisingly, this was the same date when the Commission’s earlier order for disclosure of the Report was issued.

Later, on 17th July, 2006, Prof. Punjab Singh, Vice Chancellor of the University, wrote to the Commission intimating that the Executive Council of the BHU had resolved not to accept the findings of the inquiry report it ‘being biased and not rational and beyond reasonable doubt’ and also stating that its contents were not to be divulged to anybody. He had sent a copy of the Report to the Commission to take a look at it and form its own further view about its disclosure or otherwise. The Commission then decided to call the Vice Chancellor also to hear his views in person alongwith the Registrar of the University.

The hearing was held on 31st August, 2006. The matter was heard by a Bench consisting of Shri Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner and Dr. O. P. Kejariwal, Information Commissioner. On behalf of the BHU, Prof. Punjab Singh, Vice Chancellor, Shri N. Sundaram, Registrar and Shri Vishwanath Pandey, PRO appeared before the Commission. The Appellant, Shri Dhananjay Tripathi, appeared in person.

During the hearing the Commission sought clarification from the Respondents whether they had seen reports appearing in some leading newspapers of Benaras citing statement attributable to the University that let alone the Commission, the information at this stage would not be disclosed even to the Parliament. While the Vice Chancellor denied having seen this statement saying that in all probability he was out of station when these reports appeared, the Registrar stated that he did not remember to have seen these papers. When the Respondents were pointed out a statement to this effect recorded in their own files by the Deputy Registrar (Academic), the Registrar stated that the remark came to his notice only at the time when the appeal was decided by him and it did not occur to him at that time that any clarification was necessary on this point.

As for the rejection of the report by the Executive Council, the Vice Chancellor explained that Prof. Harikesh Singh who had submitted the report was a non-medico himself, and was not considered competent enough to discuss the medical issues. 8. The CIC took exception to his writing to the Commission that it should be given to the Appellant by the Commission itself since the Commission was not an agency for disseminating of information on behalf of the Respondents. As for the VC’s remark that the CIC should make available the report to the Appellant ‘preferably under intimation to the BHU well in advance so that the University prepares itself to combat the problems that may follow, was tantamount to a threat to the Commission which could not be accepted. The Vice Chancellor offered his apology for this lapse which the Commission accepted.

The Commission then ordered that if the report was a dead document and disowned by the University then there was no harm as it is to make it public. The Vice Chancellor asked if he could make the report public with the proviso that the University had rejected it and that it was disowned by it and was a dead document as for as the University is concerned, the Commission agreed that it had no objection to this.

CIC raised with the Vice Chancellor the issue of alleged victimisation of the Appellant who had not been given admission to the post graduate course against seats reserved for students of the University. The Vice Chancellor explained that he was not aware of the case relating to admission not being given. He, however, clarified that the admissions to the University were quite transparent and the results were given on the website. While accepting the view of the Vice Chancellor, CIC directed that the Assistant Registrar, Shri Pankaj Shreyaskar, would visit the University to inspect the documents for satisfying the Commission that the non-admission of the Appellant was not in any way linked to the case before the Commission.

During the hearing, the Vice Chancellor pointed out that under the provisions of the Act, the penalty clause was applicable to the PIO and not the Appellate Authority. He also submitted the Registrar’s explanation in response to the notice issued to him. In this context, CIC drew attention of the Vice Chancellor to Section 5(5) of the Act which provided that ‘any officer, whose assistance has been sought under sub-section (4), shall render all assistance to the Central Public Information Officer or State Public information Officer, as the case may be, seeking his or her assistance and for the purpose of any contravention of the provisions of this Act, such other officer shall be treated as a Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be’. However, the Commission would examine the explanation of the Registrar and would decide further in the matter.

Finally, the Commission directed the Vice Chancellor to release the compensation amount to the Appellant for three journeys to Delhi and back as directed in its previous order dated 17.7.2006, as required under Section 19(8)(b), to which the Vice Chancellor said that the amount had already been sanctioned by him and would be released soon.

Report of the Enquiry conducted by Shri Pankaj K. P. Shreyaskar Under Secretary& Asstt. Registrar, Central Information Commission during 28th - 30th September, 2006 at Banaras Hindu University, Varanasi.

An enquiry was ordered by the Central Information Commission (CIC) to find out whether Shri Dhananjay Tripathi an RTI user has been victimized by the Public Authority for his using the Act.

Shri Dhananjay Tripathi, an ex student of Bachelor of Physical Education had filed an RTI application requesting the Public Authority to make enquiry report public in the matter of death of Shri Yogesh Rai, another student of the B.P.E, BHU, Varanasi. Shri Tripathy passed the B.P.E in the year 2005-06 and appeared in the entrance test for admission in M.P.E (M.P.Ed form 2006)

The merit list for the Deptt. of Physical Education was not uniformally prepared over the last two years. During 2005-06, a combined merit list, that is of those who qualified the physical test and those who could not qualify the physical test was prepared and sent to the Department and it was left to the Department to finalise admissions to the candidates. The Department of Physical Education …. ward quota. This proves that these rules are not strictly followed and are amended as per the convenience of the BHU Administration and their beneficiaries.

Conclusion:: If the merit list would have been prepared as was prepared in 2005-06, Shri Dhananjay Tripathy would have found a place in the composite merit list in the BHU candidate category.

It is established beyond any doubt that the minimum qualification criteria is modified as and when required and the candidates are admitted as per the convenience of the BHU administration.

The HOD, Physical Education did not exercise this option since it was obvious that he never wanted Shri Dhananjay Tripathy to be admitted in the M.P.E course. This is the reason for which he filled all three seats of the BHU Candidate quota from the open category and denied admission to Shri Dhananjay Tripathy, the only BHU candidate left out of the final list. Whereas the intentions and the actions of Prof. Dureha, H.O.D., Physical Education exhibited a narrow mindedness, the consequences resulted into a violation of the natural justice. On many occasions, as pointed out by the students, teachers and the administrative staff, Prof. Dureha exhibited his high handedness in every walk of Departmental Affairs. Prof. Dureha, H.O.D. of the Physical Education, BHU, clearly played a pivotal role in denying admission to Shri Dhananjay Tripathi. It is left open however, whether this role of Prof. Dureha was prompted down by the University Authorities or he himself exhibited this brilliance to please his superiors.

Recommendations: It is therefore recommended that the Commission may consider directing the BHU administration to:

i. Follow a uniform moderation policy for admission in M.P.E. course for the year 2006-07 as done by them for M.Sc. (ag.);

ii. Publish the conversion table used for evaluating the Canadian test in the Information Bulletin;

iii. Prepare the merit list not only by indicating the aggregate marks but also the separate marks scored each candidate in the entrance and the physical efficiency test;

iv. Admit Shri Dhananjay Tripathi in the M.P.E. course for the year 2006-07 with immediate effect and grant him a grace period upto the date of admission for the purpose of attendance;

v. To ensure that an application seeking information from the University under RTI Act-2005 is not victimized in future.

(For complete info on the above please visit Banaras Hindu University/Reports on )

No comments: