Published: 20th June 2018
Don't pay for a photocopy of your answer paper anymore, students can check it out free using RTI
Students from Government Institutes can now inspect their corrected papers by applying for it through RTI, but they cannot take a copy or digital image of it
It's official. A student studying under any Government-run University or College anywhere in India can now opt to view their corrected answer sheets by applying for it like they would file any RTI petition. The Central information Commission (CIC), the body that governs the working of all Information Officers within government departments and agencies, has now upheld the Supreme Court in 2016 that said that a student's exam paper was a piece of information, a manuscript, and should be up for scrutiny.
This may effectively sound the death knell for re-evaluation and photocopy fees — which are known to range from a few hundred rupees to Rs 1500 and more. In fact, it was the excessive levy of this fee that led to a suit being brought before the SC against the CBSE, eventually leading to the ruling.
You can look it over, but not take a copy — or click a photo
The Supreme Court had ruled in the case that the examinee holds the right to check their paper since it would fall under the ambit of "information". However, the commission stressed on the fine distinction between inspection and receiving a certified copy of the evaluated answer sheet. Therefore, students can now legally apply to inspect their evaluated answer sheets and will have the chance to inspect it for free for the first hour with a charge of five rupees for every subsequent hour.
The Commission also trashed the excuse that the decision would make the process cumbersome since "timely access to information is the essence of the provisions of the RTI Act and denial of such information could prejudice a student's future career prospects and right to their livelihood."
Universities complain that it increases work for them
The respondents in the case, University of Delhi, said that the decision would hinder the mechanism that is already in place to deal with this issue. They said the process would become cumbersome since they (the evaluation committees/ institutes) would be required to maintain two separate mechanisms — one for providing the hard copy as per their own regulation and another for inspection of answer sheet as per the RTI Act. They were also worried that the inspection process could lead to students taking digital images of their answer scripts.
However, the commission felt that the issue involved a larger public interest affecting the student's future which would affect their right to life and livelihood. The order further noted, "The marks obtained by the student would affect their future career prospects which in turn would ostensibly affect their life to life and livelihood. Deprive a person of his right to livelihood and you shall have deprived him of his life."
The Commission also trashed the excuse that the decision would make the process cumbersome since "timely access to information is the essence of the provisions of the RTI Act and denial of such information could prejudice a student's future career prospects and right to their livelihood." With regard to students misusing the answer sheets, the commission felt that the issue can be dealt with the appropriate public authority and that was no reason to stop the students from gaining access to their papers.