University of Delhi: In the case of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) vs Aditya Bandhopadhyay & Ors (2011) pertaining to the legal validity of the procurement of the answer scripts by the examinee, the Supreme Court pronounced that any student “aggrieved by the evaluation of any examining bodies such as University, State Education Board, State Public Service Commission, etc can claim his evaluated answer book for the purpose of inspection and can take a certified copy of it under RTI Act…” So why does the University’s administration still charge the students a sum of Rs 750 for a copy of their evaluated answer scripts?
The Right to Information Act (2005) states the ‘right of a citizen to secure the access to information under the control of public authorities in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority’.
Furthermore, 2(j), RTI Act states – (I) “right to information” means the right to information accessible under this Act which is held by or under the control of any public authority and includes the right to:
- inspection of work, documents, records;
- taking notes, extracts or certified copies of documents or records;
- taking certified samples of material;
- obtaining information in term of diskettes, floppies, tapes, video cassettes or in any other electronic mode or through printouts where such information is stored in a computer or in any other device.
Additionally, 2(h), RTI Act states – “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted by a notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any Body owned, controlled or substantially financed.
In the above-mentioned case, the bench of the Supreme Court chaired by Justice RV Ravindran declared that the “answer book written by a candidate and submitted to the examining body for evaluation is a ‘document or record’ and the evaluated answer book by the examiner appointed by examining body is the ‘opinion’ of the examiner. Thus, the evaluated answer book is an ‘information’ under RTI Act…Thus, every examinee has a right to inspect the evaluated answer book and if needed can take certified copies thereof under the RTI Act.”
In 2018, the Central Information Commission (CIC), the body that governs the working of all Information Officers within government departments and agencies, upheld this verdict. However, the Commission stressed on the fine distinction between inspection and receiving a certified copy of the evaluated answer sheet. Therefore, students can legally apply to inspect their evaluated answer sheets and have the chance to inspect it for free for the first hour with a charge of five rupees for every subsequent hour.
While the University of Delhi boasts of more than 1 lakh regular students, it would definitely be a hassle to distribute copies of the answer scripts to the students. But it is also injudicious to charge Rs 750 to the students for ‘a public document.’ Ideally, this problem would not arise, in the first place, if the University indulges in a methodical evaluation process which will, consequently, leave the students satisfied with their results. Considering the current fiasco created by major result blunders across various courses and colleges in the University, this seems to be far removed from reality.