In a strange incident, the MP Textbook Corporation — constituted by the state government with the School education minister as its chairman and senior government officials posted there — has claimed that it does not fall under the Right to Information Act implemented on all government bodies.
Stranger is the coincidence that even the State Information Commission believed its claim and absolved it from answering the queries filed under the RTI Act. However, an RTI activist did not give up hope and fought the battle with the Information Commission. After presenting several decisions given by Information Commissions nationwide and organizational structure before the state Chief Information Commissioner (CIC), he was forced to alter his own decision that he gave earlier in another case.
An RTI was filed with the MP State Textbook Corporation (TBC) by activist Nitesh Vyas on July 15, 2109, seeking information on meeting of the Syllabus Review Committee. A TBC official replied that they did not fall under the RTI Act and an appeal was filed against the decision on August 23, 2019.
Vyas, in his appeal, said that the TBC is a government-constituted corporation that has a minister as its head and senior government officials on the board of directors, running in a government building with state government employees posted there. So, how can the officials deny they are a part of the government? he asked.
TBC officials argued that they had not taken any grants or funds from the government; therefore, they were an independent organization and RTI did not apply to them.
The RTI activist then stressed the clause under the RTI Act which iterated that, whether it takes grants/ funds from the government or not, it has been constituted by — and is controlled by — the state government.
‘We’re bound to follow the instructions of the Information Commission. We’ve been given two months’ time to implement the decision. We’ll now appoint an information officer and provide information relating to us’Vinay Nigam, managing director, TBC
Turnover of Rs 250 crore per year
* The TBC often springs into the limelight as it prints books of about Rs 250 crore per annum
* Its main clients are the Rajya Shiksha Kendra and NCERT and it publishes books for about 1.25 crore students of MP
* TBC takes orders from related departments and gives it to publishers, charging commission for delivering service