Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Students can seek answer sheets under RTI, says CIC

NEW DELHI: There's good news for students. The CIC in an order has ruled that educational institutions that are public authorities cannot refuse to provide exam answer sheets under the RTI Act. The Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University had refused to part with the information, instead asking the student to approach the university exam cell for the same service but with a fee.

The order came on an RTI filed by Swati Babbar, a student of architecture in IP university, who wanted a copy of the answer sheets of exams she sat for in 2016. The public information officer of Guru Gobind Singh Indraprastha University (GGSIPU) refused to give the information, asking the RTI applicant to approach the university to inspect the answer sheets at a fee of Rs 1,000, as per university rules.

Ruling that an examinee has a "statutory as well as equitable" right to know about the evaluation process, information commissioner Yashovardhan Azad said, "Seeking access to an examination answer script is well within the ambit of the RTI Act." Azad added, "The Apex Court ... has held the evaluated answer scripts to be within the meaning of information."

Azad also averred that since the appellant was the examinee herself, exemption under Section 8(1)(e) was also not available to the university.

The CIC was scathing about GGSIPU's practice of charging a fee for the service, observing that the university, as per the contention of the PIO, wasn't averse to disclosure, but wanted the appellant to approach under the university's internal mechanism.