Central Information Commission to CBSE: Declare Monetary Accounts & Allocation of NEET Exams Registrations
The Central Information Commission (CIC) in Ateet Bansal vs. CPIO, Central Board of Secondary Education, directed the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to provide information on the funds collected from the registration of NEET Examinations from the last 5 years and on the allocation of such money by the CBSE.
A Right to Information (RTI) application was filed by one Ateet Bansal, on 14th March 2019, seeking from the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) following information on NEET Medical Entrance Exams:
1. The number of applicants registers and attends the exams every year;
2. The amount of money collected from the registration in the last 5 years; and
3. The allocation or the use of such funds collected from the registration of these exams.
This information request was denied by the CPIO claiming exemption under sec 8(1)(e) of the Right to Information Act, 2005 which prescribes that an information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship can be exempted from disclosure. Accordingly, an appeal was made to the First Appellate Authority. However, on 29th April 2019, the First Appellate Authority passed an order upholding the CPIO’s response.
Aggrieved by the order, an appeal was filed in the Central Information Commission (CIC). Here, the appellant submitted that he requested the information in the public interest as enormous amounts of fees were being charged for the NEET Exams and that CBSE has not disclosed to the public how the amounts have been allocated.
The CIC considering the essence of the request stated that the denial of information by the CPIO was “grossly inappropriate” and observed:
“The Appellant has merely sought to know the total amount collected by CBSE as registration fees in the last five years and the manner in which these funds were utilized, both of which does not reflect on any aspect of a fiduciary relationship even by a farthest stretch of imagination.”
In conclusion, the CIC directed the CPIO to “provide a revised categorical reply to points 2 and 3 of the RTI application” within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order. However, liberty was given to the CPIO to provide information to the extent that it is available in recorded form and which was possible to be collected and accumulated by it since the information pertained to a period of 5 years.
In the event that, the information sought for is not readily available in the form it is sought in and/or is required to be collated by investing disproportionate resources of the public authority, the CPIO is directed to provide the information to the extent it is available in recorded form and provide a categorical reply indicating the unavailability of information, where applicable. The said information shall be provided free of cost to the Appellant within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order under due intimation to the Commission.