The State Information Commission has ruled that Dr Padiyar Memorial Homeopathic Medical College in Chottanikkara is under the jurisdiction of the RTI Act since the university is a public authority that has significant government assistance.
The commission observed that as the university received substantial support directly and indirectly through government funds, citizens were entitled to information about the institution.
The commission also said that even non-governmental organizations that received government funds were treated as a public authority subject to the jurisdiction of the RTI Act. In addition, the High Court had held that an assisted private university was an agency funded directly or indirectly by the state government.
By having a field of appeal against the order of the State Public Information Officer (SPIO) of the homoeopathic college, the court also noted that under the direct payment system, teachers and staff of all assisted schools were paid directly by the government. Even employee retirement benefits are covered by the State. In addition, it was found that the Center had been extending funds to the university. Therefore, it is a public authority defined in Section 2 (h) of the RTI Act.
The commission noted that the public money was granted as an aid to the school, which was subject to the rules and regulations framed by the affiliated universities. In fact, the affiliated universities are under the definition of public authority.
The SPIO of the university, although it refused to provide the information requested by some information seekers, maintained that although the government was paying the salaries and allowances of the teaching and non-teaching staff under the direct payment system, the university was not substantially controlled nor financed by the government.