Sunday, June 24, 2018

CIC green light to DU law students

The Sunday Guardian: New Delhi: Sunday, June 24, 2018.
Students can now get access to their answer sheets under RTI Act.
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has directed the Delhi University (DU) to allow students in the Law Faculty to access their evaluated answer scripts by way of filing RTIs. Following a year long dispute between the university and the students who had approached the CIC to address the matter, the CIC announced that accessing evaluated answer scripts is a statutory right of a student under the RTI Act.
Until now, students had to make a payment of Rs 750 per paper to access a photo copy of their evaluated answer script; since there are five papers in a semester, students had to pay over Rs 3,000 to get photo copies of their evaluated answer scripts which was more than the amount of money paid by students to appear in examinations, which was around Rs 1,200.
In 2016, students and the university ended up being at odds when some students requested for the original copies of their evaluated answer sheets instead of photo copies, but the university, citing its established procedure, refused to release the copies.
Mohit Gupta, a former Law Faculty student involved in the matter then, explained, “The issue was that we were not sure of the evaluation. We wanted to see for ourselves how much marks we have been allotted. Some photo copies that were procured from earlier semester examinations had shown that often there is a calculation miskate in assessment or some answers are left unmarked etc. We have had incidents of huge number of students failing in a single semester before. Mistakes in evaluation have been one of the reasons for that.”
Narvinder Thakran, another law student, had argued, “The university preserves answer sheets only for 135 days now. Earlier, it was two years, but the university’s executive council’s 2011 order reduced the preservation period. On the other hand, the university provides answer sheets only between 61st and 75th day after the result is uploaded on the university’s website. This means that by the time the university will process by request to give me my evaluated answer script’s photo copy for which I have paid enough money, chances are that the university might have already discarded it. So, we demanded that answer scripts should be allowed to be accessed under RTI for which we only have to pay Rs 10.”
The CIC in its order observed, “Issue under consideration is in larger public interest affecting the fate of all students who wish to obtain information about their answer sheets/marks obtained which would understandably have a bearing on their future and their career prospects which in turn would ostensibly affect their right to life and livelihood. Hence, they ought to be allowed to inspect their answer sheets under RTI Act 2005.”
The CIC further observed that the university’s argument that allowing students to access their answer sheets would prove unnecessary burden on the public authority does not hold merit since timely access to information is the essence of the RTI Act.