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Unveiling the Seal of Secrecy

P. A. Chacko P. A. Chacko
17 Apr 2023
Unfortunately, this free democratic country, existing in the third millennium, is taken for a ride by some politicians who think that they can exercise authority as high functionaries with or without educational qualifications.

Why this sealed cover secrecy? The Supreme Court wants to do away with it. No more presenting sealed cover replies to Supreme Court’s queries or findings and reports of commissions or investigative agencies. 

The apex court has a point. We are a democracy. Why this ducking under veiled secrecy? Do not the public have a right to be informed about things that are supposed be in the public domain? 

But, then, the RTI Department says the Prime Minister of India’s degree certificate details are in a sealed cover and kept in a sealed vault. Not open to public view. This is what has launched a thousand eyebrows. 

There is commotion all over. Opposition parties have made it ‘Hulla bol’ to break open the vault. “What is so sacred about it so as to be kept under a veil of secrecy? Is not Prime Minister Modi a citizen of this nation? they ask.  Do they have a point? Judge for yourself! 

In the recent past there has been a tendency on the part of the Executive pillar of our democracy to take umbrage under sealed covers when it comes to presenting certain information or replies to the Supreme Court. Quite many sensible people felt that, in that case, there is something to hide. All is not well. They are of the opinion that, in a democratic set up, it is the people who are supreme. They elect their representatives and, ultimately, the elected representatives are to function in the name of the people, for the people and with the people. The public should know the facts. 

The Government functionaries are the servants of the people. Hence, by all logic, the public have a right to ask the Executive what it is doing and what it is not doing. Particularly when controversial issues crop up, enquiry agencies are set up to dig up materials, sift facts from fiction and nail the miscreants without bias or favour.   

When it comes to the educational qualifications of a citizen, the certificate is a public document for seeking a job. When a person applies for a job of a peon or engineer, a plumber or a philosophy professor, he or she has to present documents that prove his or her merit. There is no secrecy about it. Neither can one present it in sealed cover nor argue that not even the administration-in-charge can require removing the secrecy. And, precisely for that reason, a public servant is a servant of the people in a democratic set up. As an electoral candidate, functioning as a political security guard of the people of the country, he or she has to present his/her papers including educational qualifications. 

Unfortunately, this free democratic country, existing in the third millennium, is taken for a ride by some politicians who think that they can exercise authority as high functionaries with or without educational qualifications. 

Now, coming to the certificate that is meant to prove Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s educational qualification, the RTI Department refused to supply the details. But, surprisingly, the certificate popped up like a popcorn from nowhere to prove that Narendra Damodardas Modi completed his degree in 1978 from Delhi university. A computer-printed certificate was demonstrated as proof.  

That is where many flexed their muscles to question the veracity of the certificate.  Now, the veil of secrecy has been torn open by CPI national secretary Amarjit Kaur. She claims to have done her degrees in the 1970s at Delhi University. Listen to her: “I studied at Delhi University where Modiji was said to have studied during that period. There were Arun Jaitley and Vijay Goel among others. My MSc, PhD and LLB certificates are handwritten. How come that Modiji’s is type written? And, the computer print font used was not in existence then.” 

One wonders under what compulsion the RTI Department refused to provide information about Mr. Modi’s certificate and degree. Now Amarjit Kaur’s revelation should be an eye opener. 

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