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evaluated answer copies cannot be disclosed under RTI

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Shrawan

CENTRAL INFORMATION COMMISSION

 

BLOCK IV, OLD JNU CAMPUS, NEW DELHI 110067

 

F.No.PBA/06/103

September 22, 2006

 

 

Complaint No.113/ICPB/2006

In the matter of Right to Information Act, 2005 – Section 19.

[Date of Hearing 18.9.2006]

 

 

  • Appellant: Dr. (Mrs) Archana S. Gawada
  • Public authority: Employees State Insurance Corporation, New Delhi. Shri C. Sethu Addl. Commissioner & CPIO, Director General, ESIC – Appellate Authority.
  • Present:
    • Shri C. Seth, Addl. Commissioner, ESIC
    • Shri Arvind Kumar, Joint Director.
    • Shri S. Thomas, Addl. Commissioner
    • None from appellant.

 

FACTS:

 

By an application dated 5.5.2006, the complainant had requested for the following information pertaining to recruitment of IMO Gr.ll/Ayurvedic Physician and Dental Surgeon for which written examination was held on 29.06.2003 :

 

  1. Total number of candidates applied for the post of Ayurvedic physician, total number of candidates appeared, called for interview and finally selected;
  2. Supply of a copy of the evaluated answer sheets along with relevant question paper in respect of the applicant;
  3. Supply of copies of evaluated answer sheets along with question papers relating to the selected candidates.
  4. She had also enclosed a draft for Rs.100/- towards the application fee of Rs.10/- and Rs.90/- for the probable cost of providing the information. Her application was forwarded on 17.5.2006 to another CPIO and the appellant was advised to contact that CPIO as he was in charge of the information sought for. By a letter dated 9.6.2006, the CPIO informed the appellant that since she had not furnished her Roll No for the examination, her application could not be located and advised her to send a photo copy of the admit card. He had also returned the draft for Rs 100 requesting her to send Rs.10/-. In response, by a letter dated 19.6.2006, the appellant sent back the DD for Rs 100/ and contended that there was nothing wanting in the application and the public authority should have all records and as such the information sought should be furnished. Since she did not get any response, she filed this Complaint on 11.7.06. Comments were called for from the CPIO. By that time,by a communication dated 2.8.2006, the CPIO furnished the information sought in serial no 1 of the application and declined to furnish the information sought in serial no 2 and 3 applying the provisions of Section 8(1)(j). On receipt of this information,the complainant sent a communication to this Commission dated 21.8.2006, pointing out the inordinate delay in furnishing even the part information and contending thatthe CPIO could not have applied the provisions of Section 8 (1)(j) to furnish the remaining information. She has pointed out that to have transparency in examination matters, evaluated answer sheets should be made available to the candidates. In the comments from the CPIO dated 11.9.2006 and 13/9/2006, the CPIO has stated that in addition to the information furnished on item 1 of the application on 2.8.2006, th eanswer sheet of the complainant had also been furnished to her on 25.8.2006 and that in regard to the answer scripts of the successful candidates, the same could not be furnished in terms of Section 8(1)(j). In respect of the delay, he has submitted that it was due the failure of the complainant in furnishing her Roll No etc. While admitting the delay in furnishing the information and highly regretting for the delay, it is stated that it was on account of this case being the first application received in connection with recruitment process which is normally kept confidential. It is also stated that in collecting and furnishing the information, an expenditure of Rs 167.10 was incurred as against the deposit of Rs. 90/- by the complainant.
  5. The complaint was heard on 18.9.2006 with due notice to the complainant and the public authority. Complainant was not present. It was explained by the CPIO that the examination being of objective type, no manual evaluation of the answer sheets is made and the whole exercise is done by the computer which displays only the names of candidates securing marks above the cut off marks. Therefore, since the marking is not done manually, the answer sheet by itself will not display any marks. That is why, the copy of the answer sheet sent to the complaint does not exhibit any marks on the same. It was also submitted that answer sheets of the successful candidates cannot be furnished in terms of Section 8(1)(j). In so far as the delay is concerned, the CPIO expressed his deep regrets stating that since it was the first application under RTI and since, the recruitment process had always been kept confidential, he was not sure whether the information could be furnished or not. He sought for condonation of th edelay assuring the such delays would not occur in future.

DECISION:

 

  1. This Commission has taken the view in similar cases of applications for copies of evaluated answer sheets, whether of the applicant himself/herself or that of others, that the same cannot be furnished in terms of Sections 8(1)(e) and (j). In Appeal No ICPB/A-3/CIC/2006, this Commission has decided as follows: “Therefore, we find that in case of evaluated answer papers, the information available with the public authority is in his fiduciary relationship, the disclosure of which is exempt under Section 8(1)(e). In addition, when a candidate seeks for a copy of evaluated answer paper, either of his/her own or others, it is purely a personal information, the disclosure of which has no relation to any public interest or activity, which of such a situation is covered under Section 8(1)(j) of the Act. Therefore, we hold that the CPIO was justified in rejecting the request of the appellant for a copy of the evaluated answer paper. We, as a Commission, are not satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of the information sought for by the appellant to direct the CPIO to comply with the request of the appellant and as matter of fact we are rather of the opinion that furnishing of copies of evaluated answer papers would be against public interest as has been rightly opined by the appellate authority that supply of a copy of the evaluated answer paper would compromise the fairness and impartiality of the selection process.” [Case No. ICPB/A-2/CIC/2006 (available in www. cic.gov.in)]
  2. Therefore, the CPIO had correctly applied provisions of Section 8(1)(j) to decline to furnish the copies of the answer sheets of the successful candidates. However, this Commission has also decided that as matter of course, marks obtained by the applicant and the selected candidates should be made available to the information seeker. Therefore, as directed during the hearing, the CPIO will furnish to the appellant the cut off marks prescribed, the marks obtained by the complainant and the successful candidates and also a copy of the key. This should be done within 15 days of this Decision.
  3. As far as the delay in providing the information is concerned, since the CPIO has explained that the present application was first of its kind seeking for information which had always been kept confidential, I am inclined to condone the delay.

However, since delay in furnishing the information has been established, the amount of Rs.90/- deposited by the appellant shall be refunded to her.

 

Let a copy of this decision be sent to the appellant and CPIO.

 

 

 

-sd-

 

(Padma Balasubramanian)

Information Commissioner

 

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sachin21t

this is OK with answer book.

But why certain gov. orgnisation conducting competion exam takes qustion paper back after exam?

can it be sirt under RTI?

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smnislam

in a recent decision of the cic, the cpio has been directed to provide a copy of the evaluated answer books to the candidate and allow all the candidates to see the answerbooks of all other candiates,besides giving the model amswers to the applicants for a examination helad for selection to group b posts from group c .

The cic also opined that different cic have different views on the subject and so there may be different decisions on the same issue.

while dictating the decision the learned cic only gave his own views and observation in the order and did not include the reasons for denial put forward by the cpio and even did not discuss the rationale behind opposite viwes of pther cic in his own order.

ARe the cic not obliged to give speaking orders on such vital issues.

are they not obliged to have unanimity of views.

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karira

smnislam,

 

You are absolutely correct.

Besides the subject of Answer Sheets/Scripts/Copies, the following matters are also very confusing with different IC's giving different orders on similar matters:

 

- ACR's (even after the Supreme Court ruling, one IC rejected the disclosure)

- Can only a "citizen" ask for information ?

- Who decides which entity is a PA or not ?

 

In fact for answer sheets, there is another order recently (please see: http://www.rtiindia.org/forum/7468-distinctioin-between-university-exams-entrance-exams-universities-disclosure-answer-scripts-allowed-later-case.html) where new factors have been brought in.

 

In summary, all depends on:

 

1. Which IC hears your matter

2. How the case is argued/presented

3. If it is a General Exam or a Departmental exam

4. If the PA is a normal PA or a PA whose job is to conduct only exams

5. What is the size of the exam (number of candidates)

6. If it is a University Exam or a entrance exam

7. If the answer scripts are normal or OMR type

8. Does the PA claim that disclosure will render the "system unworkable"

 

It is very confusing.

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karira

Deleted due to duplicate post.

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deedub2007

It is really annoying that the copies are kept disclosed underthe pretext of Larger Public Interest. Many a times I wonder How the larger Public Interests are catered to - by dissiminating the information or by concealing. I am of the view that the copies of selected candidates should be made public and this should be compulsary. Why not the others know about the way the marks are given. Depriving socitey and community to have a look at the copies in no way is going to do any good. I agree that many a facts depend on the back of this refusal of which none are valid.

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advocate rajesh

Sir, On the other hand file noting stand on the same footing .In case of file nothings there is fiduciary relationship involved because there can be instances where a particular officer has put adverse remarks as file noting which effect the proceedings. I think the GOVT is directly involved in such type of cases as in the recent past we have seen lot of instances where the appointments have been set aside by the courts. Where is the transparency?

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