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India International Centre says it is not a public body

The IIC has told the Delhi High Court that IIC is under no obligation to reveal the process by which membership is granted, reports Harish V Nair.

delhi Updated: Aug 06, 2007 05:09 IST
Harish V Nair

The India International Centre (IIC) has told the Delhi High Court that IIC is under no obligation to reveal the process by which membership is granted, as it was not a public body. It urged the court to dismiss a petition challenging the procedure of grant of membership.

Social and cultural activist Rajesh Mehta, also the son of former Home Minister Om Mehta, had filed a petition in November last year seeking a direction to the IIC, the intellectual hub of the Capital, for a “complete and honest disclosure of its criteria for selection for membership”.

Mehta, whose application for membership was rejected had contended despite its public and national character, the process followed in the centre is “arbitrary and totally devoid of any transparency” His lawyer R.K. Saini had submitted before a Division Bench headed by Justice B.N. Chaturvedi that the “whole selection and membership process was being managed and controlled by a few individuals”.

In their reply, IIC maintained they were not a public body and does not discharge any public duty and therefore was not bound by rules of transparency. “It cannot be reasonably said that functions and activities of the IIC are similar to or closely related to those performed by the state in its sovereign capacity,” the centre said.

Mehta had applied for membership in 2005 when the IIC invited applications for individual membership after a gap of 15 years. The invitation, without any public advertisement, had spread by word of mouth. More than 6000 persons had applied and finally after a year the IIC selected 624 persons. Mehta said his application was rejected without assigning any reason.

When he approached the IIC to know the reasons for the rejection, they declined to reveal it. Saini told the court his client, as per the requirement of the IIC, is an eligible candidate as he is a highly qualified person and has varied interest in the field of art and architecture.

Mehta maintains “such arbitrariness” cannot be allowed when the IIC has been allotted land at concessional rates.