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Monday, February 19, 2007

JAAGO GUJARAT: CBSE told to disclose details of marks

RAHUL MANGAONKAR : Strange are the ways of the Central Information Commission (CIC). While under Right to Information (RTI) they had ordered release of potentially explosive correspondence between the President and Prime Minister’s Office on the 2002 Gujarat riots, the answer-sheets of students are being termed as ‘sensitive’. CBSE, though, was made to disclose question-wise marks.
RK Gupta had sought from Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), question-wise marks awarded to Aditi Gupta in the Science and Technology paper of the class X CBSE examination and also requested for a copy of the answer sheet.
The public information officer (PIO) replied that marks were correct and that there was no provision in the examination by-laws of the board to show the answer sheet either to the candidate or her representative.
Responding to CIC’s notice, the PIO reiterated that there was no discrepancy in the marks and that the student had been informed.
The PIO also said that the information sought was exempted under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act. Information Commissioner (IC) OP Kejriwal directed CBSE to disclose the question-wise marks obtained by Aditi within 15 days. On the issue of the answer sheet though he has referred the matter to a full bench of the CIC, as he terms it ‘sensitive’.
For CIC, answer sheets become sensitive because in the past they have relied on this clause to deny answer sheets of government officers appearing in departmental exams. Now these very decisions are being thrown in the CIC’s face by PIOs.
While any such case of denial of answer sheets is yet to come up at the Gujarat State Information Commission (GSIC), CIC is still reluctant to mend its ways.
Section 8 (1)(e) basically means that notwithstanding anything in the RTI Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information.
While the first part of the section talks about ‘fiduciary relationship’, the other part talks about ‘larger public interests’. One may debate that there is a certain level of ‘fiduciary relationship’ in all the activities that officers of public authorities undertake.
But the fact remains that they are simply discharging their administrative obligations, which they are supposedly required to do for ‘public interest and in public interest’. Not to mention that their salaries are funded by tax payers money. Therefore holding up the banner of ‘fiduciary’ to deny students access to their answer sheets is unacceptable.
For the student it is not just a question of answers, it is a question of the future. Questions have always been raised on the quality of assessment, and whether those who are correcting these answer sheets possess the competencies, skill sets as required for the job.
Publication: Times Of India Ahmedabad; Date:2007 Feb 15; Section:Gujarat; Page Number 5


Md said...

RTI is an act which genuinely strengthens democracy by empowering the common people.
Dr M. Sajjad
Lecturer in History, AMU, Aligarh

Mohammad Sajjad said...

RTI is an act which genuinely strengthens democracy by empowering the common people.
Dr M. Sajjad
Lecturer in History, AMU, Aligarh