Citizens' Issues
Pune University defies SC order by not showing answer sheets; RTI activist slams legal notice

Although Supreme Court in its verdict in August 2011 ordered that certified copies of answer sheets is public information under the RTI Act, the Pune University continues to adhere by its 2008 circular which defies the spirit of the order and therefore amounts to contempt of court

The Ordinance number182 of the University of Pune implemented through a circular issued in 2008 puts stringent terms and conditions in providing answer sheets to a student, which are contrary to the provisions in the Right to Information (RTI) Act. These include: not providing certified copies of answer sheets; students to apply for answer sheets within 10 days of the results; applicant to apply for Photostat copies of maximum three subjects only and; copies to be provided within 45 days through the principal of the college.
 

In August 2011, the Supreme Court has ruled that evaluated answer sheets are covered under the definition of ‘information’ under the RTI Act. Hence, this overrides any rule or ordinance that an educational institution may have had. (Read—Ultimate victory for students: Supreme Court judgment orders access of copies of answer sheets of all examinations. Like the Official Secrecy Act of 1923, which has been overpowered by the RTI Act, the Ordinance no. 182 of the University of Pune too is as good as non-existent and it is the rules under RTI that are applicable to the University. However, University of Pune continues to dictate its own terms as per its 2008 rules.
 

Pune-based RTI activist Vivek Velankar received several complaints from students of the University of Pune who are not being provided certified copies of answer sheets in the spirit of the RTI Act. States Velankar, “As per the RTI Act, the University of Pune cannot insist that the student can apply only within 10 days after the examination result. Since the University of Pune preserves answer sheets for a period of six months, the student has a right to apply within this period and s/he cannot be forced to apply only within 10 days as per its Ordinance. Also, the University of Pune HAS to provide certified copies of answer sheets and that too within the mandatory 30 days as per the RTI Act.”
 

Velankar has sent a legal notice last fortnight, bringing to the notice of University of Pune as to why its Ordinance No. 182 is irrelevant after the Supreme Court verdict of 2011which has made answer sheets as public information under the RTI Act. Says Velankar, “We are giving 30 days to the University of Pune to abide by the SC judgment and to scrap its 2008 Ordinance, as continuing to implement it amounts to contempt of court. If it does not do so, we will file a Public Interest Litigation (PIL).”

 

Details of legal notice sent on 16th March are as follows:
 

NOT PROVIDING CERTIFIED COPIES:
 

As per Point No. 19 of Ordinance of the University of Pune Rule No. 182 in respect of answer sheets which states as under that, “The Certified copies of revalued answer sheets are not provided.’’…above Rule No. 182 of Ordinance issued by the University of Pune is completely contrary to the provisions of the Right to Information Act and to the judgment of Supreme Court of India in the case of Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr Vs Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors reported in Civil Appeal No. 6454 of 2011. The Supreme Court has thereby ruled that the definition of information in Section 2 (f) of the Right to Information Act, 2005, refers to any material in any form which includes records, documents, opinions, papers amongst several other enumerated items. The term ‘record’ is defined in Section 2(i) of the said Act as including any document manuscript or file amongst others.
 

When a candidate participates in an examination and writes his answers in an answer book and submits it to the examining body for evaluation by an examiner appointed by the examining body, the evaluated answer book becomes a record containing the ‘opinion’ of the examiner. Therefore, the evaluated answer book is also information under Right to Information Act, 2005. It is further stated that if the rules and regulations of the examining body provide for re-evaluation, inspection or disclosure of the answer books, then none of the principles of the Maharashtra State Board or other decisions following it will apply or be relevant.
 

“Therefore it is stated that as per the Supreme Court ruling, the word ‘evaluation’ shall mean and include the word re-evaluation and therefore the Rule No. 182 of Ordinance issued by the University of Pune is completely contrary to the ruling of the apex court and hence needs to be necessarily modified accordingly to enable students to get certified copies of their re-evaluated answer sheets. It is stated that, if the mandate of the apex court Judgment is not followed by your institution then this may amount to the contempt of the court as prescribed in the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.”

 

APPLICATION TO BE MADE WITHIN 10 DAYS AFTER THE EXAMINATION RESULT:
 

“It is stated that the Rule No. 182 of the Ordinance issued by the University of Pune also states that the student has to apply for certified copies of their re-evaluated answer sheets within 10 days from the date of examination result. This rule is also completely contrary to the aforesaid ruling of the apex court. The Supreme Court of India in the aforesaid judgment makes it amply clear that, “the obligation under the RTI Act is to make available or give access to existing information or information which is expected to be preserved or maintained. If the rules and regulations governing the functioning of the respective public authority require preservation of the information for only a limited period, the applicant for information will be entitled to such information only if he seeks the information when it is available with the public authority. It is stated that, period of University of Pune is of six months and therefore, the student is entitled to make an application for the certified copies of the evaluated answer books within the period of six months and the mandate 10 days time limit as prescribed in Rule 182 of University of Pune Ordinance is completely contrary to the judgment of the Supreme Court of India and therefore, it is required to be modified accordingly. It is stated that, if the mandate of the apex court judgment is not followed by your institution then this may amount to the contempt of court as prescribed in the Contempt of Courts Act, 1971.”

 

REGARDING APPLICATION FOR MAXIMUM OF THREE SUBJECTS ONLY:
 

“It is stated that, the Point No. 2 of the said ordinance states that the applicant can apply for the Photostat copies of maximum three subjects only. This is also completely contrary to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, as the Act does not provide any such restriction as to how many subjects an applicant can apply for Photostat copies of the answer books. Therefore the said provision/point in your Ordinance No. 182 is also contrary to the RTI Act, 2005, and needs to be modified accordingly.”
 

REGARDING NOT PROVIDING ANSWER SHEETS OF PRACTICAL EXAMINATIONS:
 

“It is also stated that, Point No 1 of Ordinance 182 provides for the photo copy/copies of assessed and/or moderated theory subject/s answer book/s of the current examination will be supplied to the examinee/s. The photo copy/copies of answer books of practical examination, sessional marks, marks of viva-voce/dissertation/ thesis/project, Common Entrance Test conducted by University, etc shall not be supplied to the examinee/s. It is stated that as mentioned above, when a candidate participates in an examination and writes his answers in an answer book and submits it to the examining body for evaluation by an examiner appointed by the examining body, the evaluated answer book becomes a record containing the ‘opinion’ of the examiner. Therefore, any evaluated answer book is also information under Right to Information Act, 2005. This makes it very clear that, any evaluation done by the University is also information under RTI Act, 2005 and therefore, the photo copy/copies of answer books of practical examination, sessional marks, marks of viva-voce/dissertation/ thesis/ project, Common Entrance Test conducted by University are also covered under the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005. Point No. 1 is completely contrary to the provisions of RTI Act, 2005 and aforesaid judgment of the Supreme Court of India.”
 

REGARDING PROVIDING INFORMATION WITHIN 45 DAYS OF RECEIVING THE REQUEST:
 

It is also stated that, Point No. 16 of aforesaid Ordinance 182 states that, “the University shall supply the photo copy/copies within 45 days from the date of receipt of application through the principal of the college concerned”. It is stated that, the aforesaid point of the ordinance is directly and completely contrary to the provisions of Section 7 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, which states that 7. Disposal of request—(/) subject to the proviso to sub-section (2) of Section 5 or the proviso to sub-section (3) of Section 6, the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, on receipt of a request under Section 6 shall, as expeditiously as possible, and in any case within thirty days of the receipt of the request. either provide the information on payment of such fee as may be prescribed or reject the request for any of the reasons specified in Sections 8 and 9: 6 This provision mandates the information which is sought has to be provided to the applicant within the maximum period of thirty day and no further extension is allowed by the provisions of the Section 7 of RTI Act, 2005. Therefore, the time period of 45 days is completely and directly contrary to the provisions of RTI Act, 2005, and needs to modify accordingly.
 

REGARDING UNIVERSITY OF PUNE WRONGLY ABIDING BY ITS OWN ORDINANCE
 

It is also stated that the RTI Act, 2005, is a central enactment and has to be followed in its true spirit and any provision/ rules made by any public authority contrary to the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, shall attract the provisions of the Section 22 which reads thus “Act to have overriding effect—the provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act”.
 

(Vinita Deshmukh is the consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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COMMENTS

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

The examples being set in front of the students is a bad precedent for future generation.

S V Nahar

4 years ago

Does a Notice would make any effect on University, which is a thick skinned as any Govt Dept??

Why not claim heavy damages from University by instituting suits?

SuchindranathAiyerS

4 years ago

Over the last sixty five years, the various "governments" of India have ensured that Supreme Court judgements and directives are there to be laughed at. Nehru explicated the culture of pervasive corruption, rape and other forms of crime that he wanted for India when he said "Show me the person and I shall show you the law". Every law that has been passed since independence is seriously flawed as "social" and "capital" engineering, with a large pinch of the agendas of individual politicians and their subsequent discretions have made a mockery of any form of equity or equality under law. Every Muezzin in his local mosque assiduously violates the law of the land five times a day by hurling imprecations at non Taliban through his conical and very amplified megaphones, just as every Sarpanch erects "Speed Humps" over highways passing through what he considers to be his vote-fodder.India is a law less land rapidly subsiding into what it was before the British appeared on the horizon. Naturally, educational institutions are at the fore front of this revolution.

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to SuchindranathAiyerS 4 years ago

We do agree Sir, but now what is the way out, the rot has established itself so much that we are finding helpless with glint hopes of recovery as with MLF, so who will takes out of this rut or we will pas s away cursing past, people/politicians etc.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

Actually, if you look around senior law abiding people are pushed to their limits, the law has taken back stage and we can see rules being flouted openly and brazenly plus no body to guide and every body busy in gathering their chickens whatever the cost may be, because it is recoverable and when the economy goes down the dumps as happening nowdays you feel the real brunt of it. So all are to blame for this sorry state of affairs

Babubhai Vaghela

4 years ago

None responsible to implement Judgments by HCs or SC is structural lacuna.

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

4 years ago

Today, as can be seen the authorities have taken a fancy for defying.

MK Gupta

4 years ago

One can reasonably hope that the Pune Univ has also a Law Deptt and that is headed and manned by eminent scholarly teachers with great knowledge of Law and practice of Law. Why were they not taken into confidence before the University wantonly went against the apex court verdict remains a mystery.

REPLY

CA PRADEEP AGARWAL

In Reply to MK Gupta 4 years ago

No doubt the authorities of Law College at he Law University might be tempted at not giving their opinion.

MK Gupta

4 years ago

One can reasonably hope that the Pune Univ has also a Law Deptt and that is headed and manned by eminent scholarly teachers with great knowledge of Law and practice of Law. Why were they not taken into confidence before the University wantonly went against the apex court verdict remains a mystery.

Kingfisher remits two months’ salaries to its staff

The move comes a day before the commencement of the Indian Premier League in which airline promoter Vijay Mallya owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore team

 
Kingfisher Airlines on Tuesday started remitting two months’ salaries to its employees who have not been paid for the last 10 months.
 
“We have released two months salaries to our staff,” a Kingfisher Airlines spokesperson said, without elaborating on the period for which the salary was paid.
 
The development comes on a day when UB Holdings failed to get an interim stay from the Bombay High Court against its lenders who have started monetising the collaterals pledged with them.
 
Kingfisher, grounded since 1st October and whose flying licence expired last December, has not paid to most of its staff since last June.
 
The move comes a day before the commencement of the Indian Premier League (IPL) in which airline promoter Vijay Mallya owns the Royal Challengers Bangalore team.
 
Last month, airline engineers had announced that they would disrupt the matches and had also urged the players to quit the Mallya team. They also asked the cricket board not to allow Mallya’s team to participate in the event.
 
“Last time, when Formula 1 race was being organised, afraid of our protests, the management had paid our one month salary and assured us to pay the remaining dues in instalments. But they never kept that promise. This time, we will protest outside the venue wherever Bangalore team play their matches,” said SC Mishra, a member of the airline’s engineers association.
 
As part of their protest, a section of the employees of the grounded carrier staged protest on Monday outside the residence of Royal Challengers captain Virat Kohli in the national capital, demanding he should quit the team.
 

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COMMENTS

rajeshpai

4 years ago

As expected this is a cheap gimmick by the esteemed Dr Vijay Mallya to see that there is no trouble with his IPL matches.

Employees must not be placated by this eye wash tactic of Mallya.

Why should he be enjoying when the poor employees have not been paid for 10 months.

By the way where is the super efficient son of DR VM, the one and only Siddharth who along with his eminent father managed to single handedly bring KFA to this enviable stage??

If he is not busy with the Kingfisher calender girls, he should try to meet the KFA staff and try to reason out with them that they will be soaring soon.That KFA is a birthday gift from his loving dad and he will not let it falter.And not to make a scene at the IPL matches.
And to ensure that the King of good times has the time of his life.
God bless the father and Son duo.

Nilesh KAMERKAR

4 years ago

& we the people will now get drowned high spirits of Jhamping Jhapang Jhampak Jhampak . . .

Solar Engineer Grandmothers

Dr Nita Mukherjee finds another successful skill development model based on training illiterate rural women


Exactly a decade ago, ‘graduates’ of the Barefoot College decided to come together to form what is perhaps the first association of semi-literate women solar engineers. The Women Barefoot Solar Cooker Engineers Society (WBSCES) was registered in 2003 to disseminate solar technology to the poorest of the poor and train rural women as solar engineers. Since women are the main users of energy—and suffer the most because of depleting fuel-wood—they are adept at learning to use a renewable energy source, like solar energy, and appreciate its impact on preserving the environment and improving the quality of their life. The office of the Society is located in the old campus of Barefoot College (Tilonia), which has trained these solar engineers. 
 
The approach of the Barefoot College has always been that grassroots community development should be people-centric. What is required for this is equipping people with traditional knowledge that is married to modern technology. These skills have to be available locally whenever there is a need. Simple, rural folk get intimidated by using knowledge, or ‘knowledgeable people’ from outside—whether they are doctors or engineers.
 
Over the years, Barefoot College has demonstrated that illiteracy is not a barrier to learning. Illiteracy is in no way an impediment for the poor to get trained in solar engineering. Says Bunker Roy, one of the founders of Barefoot College: “Our experience shows that men are ‘un-trainable’ for rural development work. They are ambitious and compulsively mobile; all they want is a paper certificate. Once they obtain the certificate, they go looking for a job in cities. So the Barefoot College came up with a unique solution: train grandmothers. It is now a policy of the College to train only illiterate/semi-literate, middle-aged mothers and grandmothers from villages all over the world.” Moneylife readers would recollect that the Foundation of Medical Health and Research adopted a similar strategy for training rural community health workers in Maharashtra (Issue dated 1 February 2007).
 
Uneducated women solar engineers are trained in six months—using sight, sound and sign language. The collective learning process is beyond pedagogy. As Anu Saxena, Latin America adviser to the Barefoot College’s solar engineering programme, says: “Since there is no common language among the trainees or instructors, women learn to identify parts by colour and use hand gestures liberally.” 
 
Some of the earliest women solar graduates have become a part of the Barefoot College ‘faculty’. Among the training team of WBSCES are: Sita Devi (studied up to class 3), Shyama Devi (class 5), Shehnaaz Begum (class 4), Northi Devi (illiterate), Indra Devi (illiterate), Kamla Devi (class 4) and Raju Devi (who has gone up to class 10). These women are not only training other solar engineers from all over the world but also building parabolic pressure cookers—a task requiring high accuracy and skill in metal craftsmanship. Any inaccuracy means the cooker won’t work at all. This craft was traditionally synonymous with men; today, it is being practised by women—grandmothers, mothers, wives and daughters. A parabolic solar cooker uses energy from sunlight to cook food. Its shape allows all the sunlight that falls on the mirrors to be concentrated on the bottom of a cooking pot to cook food quickly. The Society’s team installs and maintains the cookers. Purchasers also receive a day’s training at Tilonia in the use and basic maintenance of cookers. 
 
These Barefoot College graduates have solar electrified 19,717 houses and 293 schools in 680 villages spread over 16 Indian states. These are serviced by 430 barefoot solar engineers of whom 170 are illiterate women. The team has installed solar parabolised cookers in 25 villages in aanganwaadis (rural crèches); 450 children have their morning meal cooked in these solar cookers. Donations to the Society are tax-exempt under Section 80G.
 
Women Barefoot Solar Cooker Engineers Society
Tilonia 305816 (via) Madanganj, 
Ajmer District, Rajasthan
Phone: +91(0)1463-288211, 
(0) 9414766993
E-Mail: barefootcollege@gmail.com; barefootsolar@gmail.com

 

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