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Friday, December 9, 2011

Supreme Court: Reveal Answer Sheets to Students

A Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik delivered the judgment in Civil Appeal No. 6454 of 2011 [arising out of SLP ( C) No. 7526/2009 on August 9, 2011] while allowing disclosure of answer sheets of students in public examinations.

Acknowledging that Right to Information is a cherished right and a formidable tool in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring about transparency and accountability, the Supreme Court, said the RTI Act provisions should be enforced strictly and all efforts made to bring to light the necessary information under Section 4 (4) (b) which “relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.”

Dismissing the oft repeated alibi that the examining bodies held the answer books in their fiduciary capacity, the Bench observed that “Once the examiner has evaluated the answer books, he ceases to have any interest in the evaluation done by him. He does not have any copyright or proprietary right or confidentiality right in regard to the evaluation. Therefore, it cannot be said that the examining body holds the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship, qua the examiner. As no other exemption under Section 8 of the RTI Act is available in respect of evaluated answer books, the examining bodies will have to permit inspection.”

Justices Raveendran and Patnaik while upholding Calcutta High Court order gave the ruling which allows students to see their answer scripts of any professional or educational exam once the result has been declared. However, to protect the safety and identity of the examiners, their details would not be shared with the RTI applicant. The apex court judgment is expected to bring in much needed reforms and transparency in the examination system of the country.

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