Thiagarajar College of Engineering, Madurai, a person discharging public duty, in aid of the State, can be brought within the definition of, public authority and it should not be exempted under the Right to Information Act, 2005

DATED: 30.04.2013


W.P.No.1253 of 2010


The Registrar,

Thiyagarajar College of Engineering,

Madurai 625 015. .. Petitioner


1. The Registrar,

Tamil Nadu Information Commission,

Kamadenu Super Market,

1st Floor, Old No.273, New No.378,

Anna Salai, Teynampet, Chennai-18.

2. Mr.T.K.Ravindranath,

No.6, Kakka Thoppu Street,

Madurai 625 001. .. Respondents


Writ Petition filed under Article 226 of the Constitution of India, praying for issuance of Writs of Certiorari, to call for the records relating to the order, dated 22.12.2009, made in Case No.20402/Enquiry/2009, on the file of the first respondent and quash the same.


For Petitioners .. Mr.G.Masilamani, SC

for M/s.G.M.Mani Associates

For 1st Respondent .. Mr.G.Rajagopalan, SC

for M/s.G.R.Associates

For 2nd Respondent .. Mr.B.Ravi


The petitioner, Thiagarajar College of Engineering, an Autonomous Private Engineering College, affiliated to Anna University, Tirunelveli, has challenged the order of the Tamil Nadu Information Commission, Chennai, which held that the College is a Public Authority, amenable to the jurisdiction of the Commission.

… Analysing the RTI Act with the aforesaid in mind, it can be seen that the provision in section 3 thereof that subject to the provisions of that Act, all citizens shall have the right to information, is the legislative recognition of the constitutional right of every citizen to information, including the right to access information. The provisions in the RTI Act, subject to which the citizen could enjoy the right to information, are laws amounting to restrictions made by the Parliament on the right to information and the right to access information, and therefore, restrictions on the freedom of speech The legitimacy of any such restriction has to answer the constitutional touchstones. The authority to make such restriction is provided for and controlled by Article 19(2) of the Constitution. The said provision enumerates the grounds on which a restriction could be imposed by law on the citizens' fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression. The authorization to make law imposing reasonable restrictions on that fundamental right is confined to be only in the interests of the sovereignty and integrity of India, the security of the State, friendly relations with Foreign States, public order, decency or morality or in relation to contempt of court, defamation or incitement to an offence. Unlike in clause (6) of that Article which carves out the limits of legislative permissiveness to impose restrictions on the fundamental right to the freedom to practice any profession or to carry on any occupation, trade or business, clause (2) of Article 19 does not provide the interest of the general public as a ground on which the right to freedom of speech and expression could be curtailed. This distinction is well established.

… Imparting education is a public activity and that no educational institution can take shelter and contend that it does not come within the purview of the Act. Once grant is received by an Educational Institution, the word, substantial has to be interpreted to sub-serve only the activity and it must be taken only as a term, relative to the activity and not to be compared with the total expenditure of the College. In the present case, the petitioner-College is conducting some courses aided by the Government and certain other courses, not aided by Government.

The expression, Public Duty means the duty in discharge of which, the State, Public or Community at large, has interest. Therefore, when the educational institutions discharges public duty, in aiding the State in imparting education, the Community at large, has an interest to seek for information, except those, which are exempted from disclosure under the Act. Imparting education is a public function.

… Though the College has been given autonomous status, but that does not mean that it need not implement any public policy or decision of the Government. So long as the activity undertaken by an educational institution is a public function or policy duty, it is bound by the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005. Once the College is declared as a Government aided college and when the said fact is also reflected in their own letter head, in the opinion of this Court, there is no need to follow the procedure contemplated under the Act, for summoning and enforcing attendance of persons and to compel them to give oral or written evidence, on oath and to produce documents or things; requiring the discovery and inspection of document; receiving evidence on affidavit, etc., before arriving at the conclusion, as to whether the petitioner-college is a public authority under the Act or not. It would be nothing but a useless formality. The said exercise is required to be undertaken only when there is no substantial or adequate material or evidence available with the Commission. Principles of natural justice is not a straight jacket formula. Facts already available on record need not be reaffirmed by examination of any witness or summoning of documents. An educational institution receiving aid from the Government cannot refuse to divulge any information, which attracts public interest. Considering the own admission of the petitioner-College that it is aided by Government, this Court is of the view that the Commission has not committed any procedural irregularity.

… Public Interest means an act beneficial to the general public. Means of concern or advantage to the public, should be the test. Public interest in relation to public administration, includes honest discharge of services of those engaged in public duty. To ensure proper discharge of public functions and the duties, and for the purpose of maintaining transparency, it is always open to a person interested to seek for information under the Right to Information Act, 2005. Therefore, the petitioner-College, a person discharging public duty, in aid of the State, can be brought within the definition of, public authority. Right to Information has been recognised as a Fundamental Right and that only condition to be satisfied is that the information sought for, should foster public interest and not encroach upon the privacy of an individual or it should be exempted under the Act.


This News is with an attachment file.