CASE: DAV College Trust and Management Society & Ors. Vs. Director of Public Instruction

Appellants : DAV College Trust and Management Society & Ors.                                                                                                                

Respondents: Director of Public Instructions

Court : Supreme Court of India

Bench: Deepak Gupta , Aniruddha Bose

Citation : (2019) 9 SCC 185

Date of Judgment: September 17, 2019


Right to Information act,2005 was enacted for providing transparency to people in their social life with government as it’s the right of the citizen to get complete information about exactly what the government chosen by them is doing and where the money of them is being invested and for what purpose. In order to maintain the basic objective of the act that was having faith of citizen on government through having transparency and accountability, this case scrutinize and determines the applicability of the RTI act .


1. This case of civil appeal no. 9828 of 2013[1] includes civil appeals filed by three colleges and organizations named D.A.V. College Trust and Management Society, New Delhi, D.A.V. College, Chandigarh and D.A.V. Senior Secondary School, Chandigarh.

2. Appellants claims that they do not fall under the provision of  Section 2(h) of Right to Information Act as they are Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and have been established by society.

3. It is claimed by them that they are not getting substantially financed by the government. It was proved by them that they don’t receive more than 50% of finance from government’s funds by submitting documents showing that finances received with regards to their institutions have constituted about 44%, 40% and 44% of D.A.V College, Chandigarh, D.A.V Senior Secondary School and M.C.M.D.A.V. College respectively.

4. Appellants stated that they don’t come under the definition of ‘public authority’ as it only covers Government and it’s instrumentalities.

5. These non-governmental institutions were admittedly getting about 95% of the fund from Union Territory , Chandigarh but it was claimed by them that the grant-in-aid[2] was reduced to 45% only.


1. It was point of question that was mainly raised in this case whether non-governmantal organizations would also fall under section 2(h) of Right to information Act if they are being financed by the government.

2. It was also an issue before the Court to determine if appellants were substantially financed by government or not.

3. Scope of Section 2(h) of Right to Information Act was checked as on which institutions or organizations would this act be applicable .


Appellants contended that their organization doesn’t fall under the definition of section 2(h) of Right to Information Act as according to the wording of the provision, only those institutions would be considered as public authority who are (a) constituted by the Constitution , (b) formed by any law made by law of Parliament, (c) by any law of State Legislature and (d) by any notification issued or order made by the government itself.

It was urged by them as they don’t come under any 4 clause of institution constituting public authority, section 2(h) of aforesaid act won’t be applicable on them.

They also contended that they are not substantially financed , even owned or controlled by the government. They argued that opening portion of the said act contain “self government”, so only those bodies would constitute public authorities which are concerned with self-governance.

Counsel of appellants contended on behalf of them that with regards of clause (d) , the act would not be applied until or unless any notification  is issued notifying them that their authority, institution or body of self government is coming under the ambit of the act.


On the other hand, Respondent argued that section 2(h) according to it’s actual wordings in addition to 4 clauses mentioned by the appellants also includes those bodies owned, controlled or substantially financed and non-governmental organizations substantially financed directly or indirectly by government. So, with regards to this, appellants would come under the ambit of public authority.

Counsel of Respondents also submitted the documents showing that the amount of fund being granted to these institutions  that amount to almost half of the expenses of appellants institutions and about 95% of salary of teaching[3] and non-teaching staff is also being generated from the government’s funds itself. So, they contended that it’s safe to tell that they are being substantially financed by the appropriate government.


Court has decided its judgment on basis of rationale made as:

Word ‘substantial’ have been used under the wordings of the RTI that means a large portion. But it doesn’t imply that the major portion needs to be more than 50% as it was interpreted by appellants because it is defined to mean with much closer to,” of considerable value”, ” material” or ” important” rather than taking it as synonymous with” majority” or “dominant”. So, it can be done through both direct and indirect ways and hence it would be considered that they were substantially financed by government.

Word “mean and include” used under section 2 (h) of act was analyzed by the court. ‘Means’ implies hard and fast rule and defines something in a restrictive manner. But whenever, ‘include’ is used, it directs towards more extensive side of interpretation of anything by giving a broader and more liberal meaning. But using both ‘mean and include’ in it’s form describes the act in an exhaustive explanation considered more complete, so categories defined as public authority are exhausting themselves under the act.

Court interpreted the constructive structure of provision of section 2 (h) of RTI in order to get the right interpreted explanation as it is inartistically worded for serving the purpose of the act and gave it a purposive effect. To fulfill the objective of the act was the basis on which court interpreted the act without giving it’s own definition based on their personal opinion.


Court interpreted the actual meaning of the act through scrutinizing it’s wording like the words, ‘mean’ and ‘include’ imparts different meaning but they direct its meaning in different direction if used together and Court based it’s judgment on the latter meaning of these words when put together. But ‘mean’ was used for first four clause of act and ‘includes’ added different two sub-clauses in the act, hence used differently . Although, their interpretation fulfilled the objective used for making the RTI act.

Word ‘ Substantial’ mean ‘a large portion’ but still Court interpreted it’s meaning not as dominant portion but as a considerable value.


Court referred the case of Thalappalam Service Cooperative Bank Ltd and Ors. Vs. State of Kerala and Ors.[4] in order to determine if appellants were public authority under section 2(h). It was concluded that other two provisions included separate bodies that were not coming under first four clauses of the act as a body owned, controlled or substantially financed by government either directly or indirectly  even if it’s non-governmental organizations . So appellant’s institutions were said to be included under the ambit of act.

Court also rejected the contention of appellant urging that only such authorities, bodies or institutions concerned with self governance would be declared public authority because there were three different categories in the opening lines as (a). authority, (b) bodies and (c) institutions of self government.

It was concluded that bodies or NGOs mentioned or defined to be declared as public authority under sub-clauses (1) and (2) were in addition of first four clauses of section 2(h). Through common sense, it’s clear that NGOs couldn’t be governed or controlled by government so only the fact that is relevant to decide the case and solve the issues raised was the question of financing or being financed by government.

Court gave the brief meaning of word ‘substantial’ being used in the act to state that it doesn’t imply ‘majority’ but directs it’s meaning towards a considerable value and need not necessarily make the fund to be above 50% in order to being eligible to say that a particular institution is substantially financed by government.

Hence, appellant was held to be substantially financed by the government and would come under the provision of section 2 (h) of RTI as ‘Public Authority’. Further, all the civil appeals of three appellants were rejected by the Supreme Court and the case was remitted[5] back to the High Court for other appellants as they didn’t notice the fact whether those appellants were substantially financed by the appropriate government or not. So, High Court was directed to give this writ petition filed in 2013 to give its utmost priority and to determine the same that they didn’t notice earlier during the hearing of the case.


1st year student of ILSR ,GLA University, Mathura.

[1] Anjali Kushwaha, DAV College Trust and management society Vs. Directors of Public Instructions, Indian Law Portal, ( Published on October 24,2020), (Last Visited June 19,2023)

[2] Ananya Dutta, DAV College Trust and management society Vs. Directors of Public Instructions,, (Published on June3,2020),, ( Last Visited on June 19, 2023)

[3] Indian Kanoon, ( Last Visited- June 20,2023)

[4] (2013) 16 SCC 82

[5] Indian Kanoon, supranote at 1.