Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Students have right to examine evaluated answer-sheets, uphelds Apex Court

Written by Anil Singh

Supreme Court’s latest judgment regarding the right to examine answer-sheets can be called monumental; especially from the student perspective.

In its latest judgment, the Supreme Court, the apex court of the country, said that, the examinees (those who appear in an examination) have a right to inspect answer-sheets under the transparency law. According to the Apex court, the evaluated answer-sheets are covered under the definition of the “information” under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, hence no examination bocy can deny such information.

The SC Bench comprising Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik upheld the judgment of the Calcutta High Court which had said “rejection for inspection of answer-sheets cannot be sustained”.

Notably, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE), West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Council for Higher Education, University of Calcutta, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India and West Bengal Central School Service Commission had challenged the February 5, 2009 judgment of Bengal High Court in the Supreme Court.

The apex court dismissed the appeals of the above appellants, and agreed with the findings of the High Court that the examination conducting bodies do not retain the evaluated answer-sheets under any “fiduciary or trust building capacity”. The retention of answer sheets are kept as a trove of information for future use, hence the information should be delivered to students, if demanded.

Interestingly, the Assam Public Service Commission and Bihar Public Service Commission had also joined in and opposed the disclosure of answer-sheets to the examinees.

Quashing the contention of the appellants that disclosure of answer-sheets and allowing the inspection would lead to the collapse of entire system; the apex court upheld the Students’ right to examine answer-sheets.

The Supreme court verdict is a monumental judgement, as it considers the evaluated answer sheets of the examinations conducted by school boards, universities and public examination conducted by public bodies; as ‘information’ as defined in the RTI Act”. The apex judgment which can now be used as a law itself in similar disputes, is a big step towards transparency.


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