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Scripts under RTI: Apex court

Access to education, Courts and PILs

The Supreme Court has upheld a Calcutta High Court judgment permitting examinees to inspect and photocopy their answer scripts in any academic or professional exam under the Right to Information Act.

NGOs such as JOSH (Joint Operation for Self-Help) and MKSS (Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan), who fight for right to information, had sought the apex court’s intervention so that examinees could access their answer scripts.

Responding to a court notice, the CBSE, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, public service commissions and the West Bengal secondary and higher secondary education boards had presented their views before the court.

Most of the institutions did not want answer scripts to be accessible to the examinees since they felt they were not equipped to deal with requests for access en masse.

“The order will apply to all examination-conducting agencies in the country,” said lawyer Divyajyoti Jaipuriar, who represented the NGOs.

The detailed judgment is not available yet.

On March 28, 2008, Calcutta High Court had permitted Presidency College student Pritam Rooj to inspect his answer scripts, prompting Calcutta University to move the apex court.

On August 14, 2007, Rooj had sought to obtain his answer scripts under the RTI Act but his plea was rejected. He moved the high court challenging the information officer’s decision to deny him the information.

The university had claimed that the answer script of an examinee was not information under Section 6 of the RTI Act and an examinee was expected to be aware of the paper he wrote and could not seek its inspection.

The university also claimed that showing students answer scripts was tantamount to involving them in the evaluation process.

The high court rejected these contentions. It said: “…it is not for the court to rein in desirable curiosity that the act has unleashed, but for other measures to be adopted to pave the way for its operations.”

The court also said: “An examining authority may not tell a student that he must learn to answer questions in the format the examining authority desires, yet leave the examinee uninformed of the manner of evaluation.”

The Telegraph, August 10, 2011


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