It goes without saying that an informed citizen is fundamental to maintaining the required vigilance on the tools of governance and making the government more responsible to the governed. The Right to Information Act is a remarkable step towards creating an equipped society that keeps citizens informed about the government’s activities. The Right to Information Act, enacted in 2005, is a monumental legislation passed by the Indian Parliament that primarily aims to enhance transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities. The act focuses on empowering the citizens to request information from any public authority, thereby making the government more open and accessible. The core objective of the act is to secure access to information under the control of public authorities to promote transparency and accountability. The article aims to analyse a significant decision by the Delhi High Court concerning the Right to Information Act, 2005. 

Govt of NCT Of Delhi And Anr v. Prabhjot Singh Dhillon

Brief Facts of the Case

The respondent, Prabhjot Singh Dhillon, filed an RTI application seeking information concerning the number of cases where the Aided School Branch, Department of Education, has taken action against teachers providing private tuition in the State of Delhi. The Department of Education directly transferred this application to the concerned Public Information Officers (PIOs) of all districts. However, the requested application was not delivered promptly within the stipulated time, forcing the respondent to file a first appeal. The first appeal was dismissed by directing the PIO (ASB) to ensure the information was provided. Still dissatisfied, Mr. Dhillon preferred a second appeal with the Chief Information Officer (CIC), who directed the PIOs to seek specific details regarding the period the information was sought. The request was subsequently narrowed to cover the period from January 1, 2017, to February 14, 2022.

Despite the amended request, the Department took no substantial action, leading the respondent to initiate proceedings under Section 18 and 20 Of the RTI Act. The CIC passed an order considering the PIO’s neglectful act of handling the RTI application and directed the ASB to provide the necessary information within 60 days. The petitioner, the Government of NCT of Delhi, and another challenged this order before the High Court of Delhi.

Legal Issues

The Delhi Court, after hearing the contention of both parties, formulated two critical issues, which were further answered in the judgment.

  • Whether the Department of Education has jurisdiction and control over unaided private schools to the extent of providing the requested information?
  • Whether the high complexity and volume of the information requested can justify the denial of the request under the RTI Act?


The judgment of the Delhi High Court was delivered by Justice Subramonium Prasad, who mainly analysed the responsibilities and obligations of public authorities under the RTI Act.

The judgment primarily emphasised that public authorities or institutions cannot refuse to provide information solely on the grounds that the information being requested is challenging to collate. The RTI Act is designed to promote transparency and accountability, and any attempt to obstruct this by citing difficulty in collating information is contrary to the spirit of the act. The court emphasised that the Department of Education must make efforts to compile the information despite being dispersed across multiple records and locations. This reinforces an established principle that administrative hurdles in collating information cannot undermine the right to information.

The court further considered the petitioner’s argument that the Department of Education had no control over unaided private schools and thus could not furnish any information as requested by the petitioner. The court referred to the Delhi School Education Rules, 1973, which mandates that any significant disciplinary action taken against a teacher in a private, unaided school must require the approval of the Department of Education. Alluding to this, the court held that the rule implies that the Department of Education holds the requisite jurisdiction over unaided private schools and thus has the relevant records of disciplinary actions against private school teachers. In concluding this issue, the court decided that the Department could not evade its responsibility to provide the requested information under the RTI Act.

The Delhi High Court clarified that the information not being readily available at a single location or the difficulty in collating information does not constitute valid grounds for refusing the requested information. The RTI Act, which primarily aims to bring about transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities, mandates that the authorities must make all reasonable efforts to gather and provide the requested information by the applicant. Dismissing the petitioner's argument that the voluminous nature of the requested information could justify non-compliance, the court reiterated that transparency and accountability are paramount objectives of the act, and the administrative burden in providing the requested information is secondary to the public’s right to information. 

Moreover, the court noticed that the petitioner had not challenged the principal order of the CIC directing the petitioner to provide the information but had limited their challenge to the directive that necessitated them to comply within 60 days. The court noted that the limitation further weakened the petitioner's case as they had tacitly accepted the CIC’s finding that the information requested must be provided. 

Giving its final directions, the Delhi High Court dismissed the petition, instructing the petitioners to provide the information sought by the respondent concerning both the government and aided schools. For private unaided schools, the court directed the petitioners to provide information in all cases where significant and severe punishment had been imposed on the teacher for taking private tuition, considering that such actions require the approval of the Director of Education. The court allowed the petitioner to seek an extension of time as the time CIC gave in the impugned order had expired and dismissed the petition. 


The Delhi High Court's decision in the case of Govt of NCT of Delhi and Anr v. Prabhjot Singh Dhillon highlights the judiciary’s commitment to upholding the objectives of transparency and accountability enshrined in the Right to Information Act, 2005. The court, carefully scrutinizing the situation, rejected the petitioner’s arguments that the difficulty in collating information or jurisdictional boundaries over unaided private schools could justify non-compliance with an RTI request. The court held that the public authorities must make reasonable efforts to collate and provide information, even when the information requested is complex to collate and voluminous in nature. This judgment reinforces the RTI Act’s fundamental objective of ensuring governmental transparency. The Delhi High Court’s directive to provide information related to government and unaided private schools depicts the extensive reach of the RTI Act. 

The court’s decision serves as a crucial reminder that the administrative burden of the requested information cannot obliterate the public’s right to information, reinforcing the act’s role in fostering an open and accessible government. This decision strengthens the Act’s enforceability and ensures that the public authorities remain accountable and perform their function, thereby creating a more informed and transparent democracy.