Court fines Kejriwal, says PM Modi's degree details not needed
The Gujarat High Court on Friday quashed the 2016 order by the Central Information Commission (CIC), which directed Gujarat University (GU) to furnish Prime Minister Narendra Modi's MA degree to Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. The bench of Justice Biren Vaishnav refused to grant a stay on the judgment and imposed costs of Rs. 25,000 on Kejriwal to be deposited within four weeks.
Why does this story matter?
- Kejriwal's Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) had alleged that PM Modi's degrees were forged and bore "glaring discrepancies." Notably, PM Modi has mentioned his educational qualifications in his election affidavit.
- Had the stated degrees been found to be false, it could have led to PM Modi's impeachment for corrupt practices under Section 123 of the Representation of the People Act, 1951.
No relevance of information sought: SG Tushar Mehta
The bench was hearing GU's petition challenging the CIC order on the grounds that it was passed without serving a notice to the university. It had reserved the judgment after concluding the hearing on February 9. Solicitor General Tushar Mehta argued that the university can't be compelled to disclose the information and that the information was irrelevant to Modi's role as a public figure.
Degree certificate not available online: Kejriwal's counsel
Appearing for Kejriwal, Senior Advocate Percy Kavina countered Mehta's submission that the case was "someone's childish and irresponsible curiosity." Asserting the relevance of the degree, he said that PM Modi mentioned his educational qualification in his nomination form for the elections, which is why Kejriwal sought the degree certificate and not the mark sheet. He pointed out that the degree was not available online.
PM Modi's BA degree not forged: DU's ex-registrar
In 2016, Delhi University's (DU) Registrar Tarun Das came forward to state that Modi's BA degree was not forged as claimed by the AAP. He said that the certificate had a "minor error," mentioning the year of issuance as 1979 while he graduated in 1978.
Then CIC passed suo moto order to Gujarat University
The CIC order to the university was passed suo moto by the then Central Information Commissioner Sridhar Acharyulu. The CIC was considering an application concerning Kejriwal's electoral photo identity card. Citing the pendency of the application, Kejriwal accused the CIC of not being transparent. He said he was ready to furnish the required information, provided it asks PM Modi to produce his degree also.