Monday, May 20, 2024

PM Degree row: Gujarat High Court reserves order on Arvind Kejriwal’s revision plea

The High Court of Gujarat has reserved its verdict on a revision petition filed by Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal regarding the academic degree of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The single-judge Bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav heard arguments from both the parties and reserved its verdict.

The Delhi Chief Minister had filed a review application against the March 31, 2023 verdict of the High Court, which had set aside an order of the Chief Information Commission (CIC).

The CIC had directed the Gujarat University to disclose the details of PM Modi’s degree on an application filed by Kejriwal under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

On its March 31 judgement, the High Court had further imposed Rs 25,000 cost on Kejriwal for making ‘mockery’ of the RTI Act.

Appearing for the Gujarat University on Friday, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta contended that the national convenor of Aam Aadmi Party, Kejriwal, merely wanted to keep alive the controversy surrounding the academic degree of the Prime Minister.

He alleged that the review plea was nothing, but an attempt to keep the controversy alive for no reason.

The SG said it might suit Kejriwal to keep the pot boiling, but same was not the case with the Gujarat University.

The varsity cannot give personal information unless the authorities recorded a finding that revealing the said information involved public interest.

Calling it a ‘childish’ prayer by Kejriwal, the SG argued that if someone wanted this information, then even he should get the information regarding the Prime Minister’s academic degree.

He further justified the High Court’s findings and the costs imposed on Kejriwal, stating that the Delhi Chief Minister was ‘guilty’ of abusing the process of salutary provisions of the RTI Act.

The law officer said the degree had no relation with the public office being held by the Prime Minister. However, the order of CIC seeking disclosure of the same was made a subject matter of a political storm for no reason and to bring down the public discourse at its lowest level.

Noting that the University was not bound by law to disclose the PM’s degree, the SG requested the Court to impose costs on Kejriwal and dismiss the review application.

Representing Kejriwal, Senior Advocate Percy Kavina that Mehta’s submissions reflected an attitude to ‘quash every legal form of dissent’.

(Case title: Arvind Kejriwal vs State of Gujarat)


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