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In strange decision, RTI officer says RGNUL need not supply annual reports electronically because too difficult

It is apparently too complicated for a national law school to digitise its annual reportsIt is apparently too complicated for a national law school to digitise its annual reports

As RGNUL Patiala remains one of several national law universities (NLU) that still do not publish their annual financial statements online, one right to information (RTI) applicant approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) against the law school.

The applicant had asked to see electronic copies of its annual reports in June. RGNUL responded to the request by stating that it currently maintained only physical records of annual reports and since they are too voluminous to send by mail to the applicant, the applicant should visit its campus and inspect the records on-site.

The applicant filed a first appeal before RGNUL and eventually approached the CIC on the ground that it was mandatory under the RTI Act 2005 for the law school to maintain its annual reports in electronic form and that the applicant would be greatly inconvenienced by having to travel from a different city to Patiala to inspect those records.

RGNUL registrar and first appellate officer for RTI in his 10 October order directed RGNUL to compute the total cost for mailing the physical records of the annual reports to the applicant and to provide the records to the applicant on their payment of that cost.

The registrar also ruled that RGNUL had not violated the RTI Act by failing to maintain electronic copies of the annual reports as the law school had a resource constraint in doing so and the Act provides for this exception.

Nalsar Hyderabad, NUJS Kolkata, NLU Jodhpur, GNLU Gandhinagar, RMLNLU Lucknow and NLIU Bhopal have all published annual reports on their websites for several years at least until 2015-2016, under the RTI section of their official websites, though some of those are more complete than others.

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