Published on: 30 September 2023 at 12:44 IST
The Gujarat University has accused Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal of deliberately prolonging the controversy surrounding Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s academic degree, stating that Kejriwal’s actions serve no legitimate purpose.
This argument was presented by Solicitor General Tushar Mehta on behalf of Gujarat University during a review application hearing in the Gujarat High Court, presided over by Justice Biren Vaishnav.
The review application, filed by Kejriwal, pertains to a March 31, 2023 judgment in which the High Court had nullified a Chief Information Commission (CIC) order.
The CIC had directed Gujarat University to disclose details of PM Modi’s degree in response to a Right to Information (RTI) Act application submitted by Kejriwal. Additionally, the High Court had imposed a fine of ₹25,000 on Kejriwal for allegedly ridiculing the RTI Act.
In opposition to the review plea, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, representing Gujarat University, argued that Kejriwal’s intent was to sustain an unnecessary controversy. Mehta emphasized that the university could not reveal personal information unless it was determined that doing so was in the public interest.
Mehta also justified the High Court’s previous findings and the imposed fine, asserting that Kejriwal had misused the RTI Act. He argued that the Prime Minister’s degree had no bearing on his public office, and the CIC’s order had been needlessly politicized.
Furthermore, Mehta stated that the university was not legally obligated to disclose the Prime Minister’s degree and requested that the Court impose costs on Kejriwal for pursuing the review application.
In response, Senior Advocate Percy Kavina, representing Kejriwal, criticized Mehta’s stance as an attempt to suppress legal dissent. Kavina argued that the Court had made unwarranted observations, particularly those characterizing Kejriwal’s conduct as reprehensible. He clarified that Kejriwal had not provoked the Court’s censure and had instead sought a swift resolution to the matter.
Regarding the Court’s assertion that disclosing the Prime Minister’s degree was unrelated to “larger public interest,” Kavina contended that this finding lacked factual basis.
Regarding the university’s claim that the degree was available on its official website, Kavina asserted that this assertion was inaccurate and that the degree was not accessible online.
Following these arguments, the Bench reserved its judgment on the case.