SC asks CBSE to provide answer sheets strictly under RTI Act without charging exorbitant fees
Despite the historic 2011 judgment of the Supreme Court, where procuring copies of answer sheets by students came under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) continued to defy it. In a reply to a RTI query, posed by Whistle for Public Interest (WHIP), comprising a group of law students, the CBSE replied on 28 December 2015, that, it charges Rs700 per subject for providing copy of answer sheets. In addition, students were compulsorily required to go through the process of ‘Verification of Marks’ for which the CBSE has prescribed fee of Rs300 per subject. 
 
This means that a student has to pay Rs1,000 per subject, if she applies for a copy of the answer sheet. This was in gross violation of the SC order of 2011, which held that “Answer-Sheet is an Information and therefore, examinees shall have the right to inspect their Answer-Sheets under RTI Act, 2005 and its Rules made thereunder which prescribes Rs10 as application fee for getting the information and Rs2 per page for the copies of such information.” 
 
This prompted the group of young lawyers of WHIP to file contempt of court at the apex court. Kumar Shanu, one of the members of WHIP says, “We filed a contempt petition against the Chairman of CBSE in the Supreme Court for willfully disobeying the 2011 judgement. Our Contempt petition was heard on 1st August and on 16th August by the division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Ranjan Gogoi and Justice PC Pant. Advocate Prashant Bhushan represented us on pro-bono basis. The express direction to the CBSE in this case has again enabled students to access their evaluated Answer-sheets under RTI an application fee of Rs10, whereas, no fee can be charged from the applicants who fall under the below poverty line (BPL) category.”
 
In its recent order, the Supreme Court directed the CBSE to “scrupulously observe” the directions made by the Court in 2011. The CBSE has been asked to provide evaluated answer-sheets to candidates under RTI Act in compliance with the Supreme Court’s Ruling in the matter of CBSE & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors –Civil Appeal No. 6454/2011). 
Before filing the contempt petition in the Supreme Court, WHIP members sent a letter on 22 January 2016, to the Chairman of CBSE requesting to quash this unfair rule and implement the law of providing the answer-sheets under RTI. 
 
Shanu says, “CBSE stated that they could not provide answer sheets under RTI, as it would involve huge costs. The Board also said that the fees was charged not with the intention of earning profit, but to ‘devise a mechanism that is systematic and fool proof to remove the element of subjectivity’.”
 
This compelled WHIP members to approach the Supreme Court. Their contentions was that, “CBSE, being an institution responsible for educating a large section of the society refuses to comply with the law laid down by the Supreme Court of India. CBSE was blatantly taking away the rights of nearly 50 lakh students every year as it conducts board examinations, Joint Entrance Examination (JEE), National Eligibility cum Entrance Test (NEET) and National Eligibility Test (NET). The Supreme Court’s decision in our contempt petition shall not only ensure the students get access to their answer-sheets under RTI but it will also help a large number of youngsters learn and use the Act as a tool in the matters involving public authorities. This would help them become responsible citizens.”
 
By the way, all the state run institutions falling under the meaning of Public Authority defined under section 2(h) of the RTI Act are also obliged to provide answer-sheets under this transparency law. 
 
Here is the order passed by the Supreme Court in CBSE matter…
 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is 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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    Sudhakar Ojha

    3 years ago

    I think if this is extrapolated to all tests like online tests the testing system could get destroyed as the question bank would get revealed. RTI may need moderation.

    SRINIVAS SHENOY

    3 years ago

    What do you think?... Write your comments. Most of us particularly, the politicians have their own guidelines which they observe. The rule of law, should be observed by all modern civilized societies.

    33 out of 44 posts of teachers vacant at JJ School of Arts
    In what may be called as a shocking revelation, Mumbai-based Sir Jamsetjee Jeejeebhoy School of Art, the oldest art institution in the city, is functioning with just about 25% of sanctioned strength of teachers. According to information procured by Anil Galgali under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, at present almost 33 out of 44 posts of professors and lecturers are lying vacant in the internationally renowned institute.
     
    RTI activist Galgali had sought information about the total faculty positions and the status from Sir JJ School of Art. Replying to his query, the Public Information Officer and Registrar Alka Chavan informed that, seven out of the eight posts of the professors are lying vacant and 26 of the 36 posts for lecturers are also vacant. Similarly, six posts of ad-hoc lecturers and nine posts of contract lecturers are functional as interim arrangements. 
     
    The position of ad-hoc Lecturers is functioning since 1993, but after a court order, these posts were regularised since 1997. On the query as to who is responsible for filling the vacant positions, Galgali was informed that the Director at the Directorate of Arts and Culture fills the post of professors and lecturers in Sir JJ School of Art.
     
    Expressing surprise at the utter neglect shown by Directorate of Arts and Culture towards appointment of professors and lecturers, Galgali has demanded action against those responsible for the delay. Galgali, in a letter to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis also demanded that the vacant posts at Sir JJ School of Art should be filled up urgently. "The neglect exhibited by the Director of Directorate of Arts and Culture is in contrast to the aims of the government for promotion of art and will have a negative impact on the aims of the government," he said.
     
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    SRINIVAS SHENOY

    3 years ago

    What do you think?... Write your comments. The government should initiate proper steps, to attract the right talent in the teaching profession, by making it attractive. Many consider teaching among the noble professions, so as to ensure that in future we get talented youngsters as professionals.

    BEST bus service losses mount to Rs905.3 crore as income from passengers dwindle
    The BrihanMumbai Electricity Supply and Transport (BEST) Undertaking, which is civic transport and electricity provider public body based in Mumbai, has suffered a massive loss of Rs905.3 crore on transportation services during FY2015-16 reveals a reply received under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. RTI activist Anil Galgali had filed the application seeking information about BEST transport services.
     
    During FY2015-16, the BEST incurred a loss of Rs905.3 crores due to higher per passenger cost at Rs21.41 while its income generated per passenger was just Rs12.88, reveals the reply received by Galgali. During that period, over 106 crore passengers used BEST services resulting in an income of Rs1,367.11 crore. However, to run these services, BEST incurred a cost of Rs2,272.41 crore during FY2015-16, the RTI reveals.
     
    Galgali, in a letter sent to Maharashtra Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) Commissioner, requested to bail out the BEST transport services. During FY2014-15 and FY2015-16, the BEST administration paid Rs139.7 crore and Rs136.8 crore, respectively as tax to various authorities. 
     
    During 2011 and 2016, the BEST administration 11 times wrote to Urban Development Ministry, Transport Ministry to either reduce or waive off taxes it pays to different authorities. However, the successive governments ignored this, Galgali alleges. 
     
    "When in 2014-15, the BEST wanted to increase fares, the MCGM gave it a grant of Rs150 crore for not going ahead with fare increase. However, now even the MCGM is not paying any heed to the demands of BEST. To strengthen the public transport system in Mumbai, the government should constitute a separate fund, which can be used to bail out undertakings like BEST, which are used by lakhs of commuters on daily basis,” Galgali said.
     
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    Laxmi Lobo

    3 years ago

    I think the mcgm is killing BEST to increase the pax for pvt cabs. One of the best toad transport systems in our country is being deliberately made useless. Many good, used routes are changed, non used routes pushed on and the ridiculous AC buses which have barely 3-7 pax will surely run at a loss. I'm sure the administration is also too heavy, drivers are surly and over paid perhaps.. Bus depots are being sold off to private developers, check Mahim. Just so much wrong
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