Friday, June 30, 2017

RTI Can Be Filed to Procure Exam Answer Sheets : Vinita Deshmukh

Moneylife: Pune: Friday, June 30, 2017.
I regularly receive emails seeking advice on filing RTI for procuring copies of answer sheets. Recently, a student wrote, “I am a student of Guwahati University, Assam. I am doing 5 years B.A. L.L.B. Hons. and I am in the 10th semester, that is the final semester.  
“The problem is that many of my friends failed in one paper of 9th semester, which is astonishing because they are really good in studies and they believe that they should have passed in that subject. But in the written exam they got 16-17 only out of 80 marks. So they want to re-evaluate the copies. But they have applied for universities of other states. So they are afraid that it will cost them one year as the result of re-evaluation is not given early. So they want to file RTI also.
“Therefore, I want to ask you whether we can file RTI and apply for revaluation at the same time. And can you please tell me the procedure for filing it.”  
In another mail, a student who had appeared for the civil services examination, wrote, “I had filed an RTI before UPSC seeking certified copy of skill test examination and separate merit lists of all skill test and interview in respect of all candidates. I know they will claim exemption u/s 8 & 9. Can you please give me some Supreme Court, High Court and CIC judgments.’’
Earlier, I had received mails from stressed CBSE students as they had to cough up Rs1000 per answer sheet  Rs700 for revaluation and Rs300 for RTI application. However, thanks to young student activists who sought legal intervention, students appearing for all school board examinations, college examinations, public services and any other competitive examination have every right to ask for answer sheets under RTI and the relevant public authorities are bound by the RTI law to provide them the answer sheets.
Several universities like Delhi University and Savitribai Phule Pune University, were also charging exorbitant fees and putting difficult terms and conditions for providing copies of answer sheets. In Pune, RTI activist Vivek Velankar filed a  complaint with the CIC, which ordered Pune University to abide by the Supreme Court ruling. Also, heads of educational institutions take cover under `fiduciary’ relationship – trust between an educational institution and the student and hence such information is not public information. The Supreme Court has rejected this excuse.
So, what should the students do?
Not every State has a format for RTI application. If your State has one, then file it as per the format. This is for the State Board examinations. In case of centrally held public examinations, there is no particular format. However, the following format procured from seems ideal. It is as follows:
·       Central Public Information Officer, O/o Registrar of University, [Name of the University] [Full Address]
·       Subject: Information under Right to Information Act 2005
·       Dated: [Enter the Date of RTI Application]
·       Dear Sir,
·      Kindly furnish certified copies of my answer-sheets, the details of which are as under:
·         1. Name of the candidate: [Enter Your Name]
·         2. Roll Number : [Enter the Roll Number]
·         3. Name of Exam : [Write the name of the examination, say B.Sc 2nd year]
·         4. Date of Exam : [Date of the Examination]
·         5. Name of the Subject: [Give the names of the subjects for which you want the copies]
·         6. Exam Centre: [Exam centre location]
·         7. Subject Code: [Write the Subject Code of Exam]
·         8. Centre Code: [Write the Centre code as available in hall ticket]
·       [If you are attaching the copy of the hall ticket, and write, that you are attaching the copy of the hall ticket]
·     I am attaching the prescribed fees of Rs [Write the fee amount deposited. Check from the University website for the correct RTI Fees]  paid through [Write the Mode of Payment Cash /Cheque/Postal Order etc.] dated [Write the date of the examination].
With Regards,
·       [Your name]
·       [Date of writing RTI Application]
·       [Full Postal Address along with email & Telephone number]
So, here’s why students should not be afraid to ask for answer sheets under RTI Act:
1. Supreme Court Order of 2011: In a landmark judgment, the Supreme Court allowed the disclosure of the answer-sheets under Right to Information (RTI) Act to the examinee. The bench dismissed the petitions filed by different public authorities and affirmed the judgment of the Calcutta High Court allowing the disclosure of answer-sheets. The case was filed by Central Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Council for Higher Education, University of Calcutta, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, West Bengal Central School Service Commission and Assam Public Service Commission challenging the common order and judgment passed by division bench of the Calcutta High Court.
2. Law students file contempt of court against CBSE for defying Supreme Court order: Despite the Supreme Court order, CBSE continued to stonewall students in gross violation. This led a group of law students, Whistle for Public Interest, to file a contempt of court case, after they used RTI and discovered that CBSE accepts no application under RTI for obtaining the copy of evaluated answer-sheets. The Supreme Court, in the contempt petition, ordered that CBSE should not only ensure that students get access to their answer-sheets under RTI but it should also help students learn and use RTI as a tool in the matters involving public authorities. This would help them become responsible citizens.