CIC Reiterates Right of Candidates to Examine Their Answer Sheets
28th April 2021, the Central Information Commission in V C Pillai vs CPIO, 0/o General Manager (Finance), Postal Accounts — SA no. CIC/POSTS/A/2019/113649-UM — passed orders instructing the Director (B&A) to provide the appellant with a copy of his evaluated answer sheets for the Limited Departmental Competitive Examination (LDCE), 2018. The appellant had sought the answer sheets for securing promotion to the cadre of Assistant Accounts Officer.
The appellant had filed an RTI application with the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) requesting information on the following points:
“Para 1: Kindly provide the copies of his answer sheets bearing Roll No. 1115934 which were evaluated and marked for all the subjects under Limited Departmental Competitive Examination for Promotion to the cadre of Assistant Accounts Officer (LDCE-2018) held on 05th to 08th July 2018 i.e. Paper-I: Financial Rules and Procedures & Book Keeping Paper-II: Service Rules Paper-III: Postal Account Paper-IV: Telecom Account, USOF and Taxation Paper-V: Logical, Analytical & Quantitative Abilities and Language Skill Paper-VI: Information Technology
Para 2: Kindly provide the copies of key to answer sheet used to evaluate and mark answer sheet for Roll No. 1115934 under Para 1 above.
Para 3: Kindly provide the copies of rules of eligibility criteria used for preparation of Merit List containing names of 949 candidates of AAO LDCE 2018 held from 5th to 8th July 2018 as per Annexure A to the OM F. No. 301 (08)/PA Admn. III/2012 to 2114 dated 01.01.2018.
Para 4: Copy of List of meritorious candidates who are not graduates from amongst the Merit List containing names of 949 candidates of AAO LDCE 2018 held from 5th to 8th July 2018 as per Annexure A to the OM F. No. 301 (08)/PA Admn. III/2012 to 2114 dated 01.01.2018.
Para 5: Copies of instructions issued to the evaluators of the answer sheet of paper I to paper VI detailed in Para 1 herein above.
Para 6: Were answers sheet containing answers written in or marked with ink other than Blue by the candidates, evaluated? Copies of decision taken in those answer sheet which had use of ink other than Blue?”
The CPIO failed to respond to the said RTI application. Aggrieved by the approach of the CPIO, the appellant filed an appeal before the First Appellant Authority (FAA).
13th February 2019, the FAA, relying on the 2018 Supreme Court judgment of Supreme Court in UPSC vs Angesh Kumar, held that information sought under point No.1 cannot be furnished while adding that point nos. 2 and 6 were unavailable with the CPIO. Distressed by the order, a second appeal was filed before the Central Information Commission (CIC).
The CIC observed that the Supreme Court judgment referred to by the FAA – UPSC vs Angesh Kumar, pronounced that information with respect to marks in Civil Services Exam cannot be directed to be furnished mechanically and that the same can be directed only when public interest or the concerned rules or practice so requires. Accordingly, the Commission held that the said decision is:
“limited to the Competitive Exams which do not cover the Departmental Exams per-se held by the Public Authorities nor is applicable to situations where it is prima-facie made out that larger public interest is involved”.
The CIC cited the 2011 Supreme Court judgment of CBSE and Anr. vs Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors. whereby it was held that every examinee has a right to examine his/her answer sheets either by inspecting them or by obtaining certified copies unless the evaluated answer sheets fall under the exempted category of information under sec 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act, 2005.
The Information Commissioner Uday Mahurkar opinionated that candidates must be allowed to obtain information pertaining to their own answer sheets as the results of it not only affects their future career prospects but also their right to life and livelihood.
In conclusion, the CIC directed the Director (B&A) and FAA to provide the appellant with a copy of his answer sheets within 15 days from the date of receipt of this order and to furnish the generic information as requested by the appellant as per sec 4 of the RTI Act in order to ensure “transparency, objectivity, and accountability in the functioning of the Public Authority”.
Ankitha Subramanya | Research Intern | EduLegaL
Swapna Iyer | Legal Editor | EduLegaL