In what has come as a relief to the whole Student Fraternity, the Supreme Court has ruled that Instructions issued to Examiners for checking the papers can now be made public after the Examination has been conducted.
The Supreme Court in its ruling announced that the “Instructions issued to the Examiners” can be construed as Intellectual Property before the Examination is conducted but this right lapses once the examination is conducted.
The Supreme Court pronounced its decision while hearing a case between the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and a CA Student.
The CA Student had filed an application under RTI for disclosure of the “Instructions issued to Examiners” to which ICAI responded that “Instructions issued to Examiners” cannot be disclosed under RTI.
However, the Supreme Court (in a bench comprising of justice R. V. Raveendran and A.K. Patnaik) announced its decision in the favour the CA Student and said that “The RTI Act does not bar or prohibit the disclosure of question papers, model answers (solutions to questions) and instructions if any given to the examiners and moderators after the examination and after the evaluation of answer sheets is completed, as at that stage they will not harm the competitive position of any third party”
It also observed that “public authorities owe a duty to disseminate the information widely suo moto to the public so as to make it easily accessible to the public”. The court also noted that an object of “democracy is to bring about transparency of information to contain corruption and bring about accountability.
ICAI’s defence and contention
ICAI had contended that the disclosure of Answer Sheets would burden the examination body with extra work.
However, the Supreme Court announced that “Additional workload is not a defence. If there are practical insurmountable difficulties, it is open to the examining bodies to bring them to the notice of the government for consideration so that any changes to the Act can be deliberated upon.”
“Examining bodies like ICAI should change their old mindsets and tune them to the new regime of disclosure of maximum information.”
Earlier the Supreme Court had also announced that Answer Sheets can now also be viewed under RTI.