In a landmark judgement which would be thanked by the Student Fraternity across India, Supreme Court on 9th August 2011 has announced that any Student aggrieved by the marks awarded to him/her in the Exams can now make an application and have a look at how the marks have been awarded.

All Students irrespective of whether in School, College or pursuing Professional Qualification like CA/IAS/MBA can now file an application under RTI and the Institute conducting the Exams would be under an obligation to reveal to the Student his answer sheet and the manner in which he has been awarded marks.

Even Students appearing for Class X and Class XII Boards would now be able to view their answer sheets as Supreme Court has now ordered for disclosure of Answer Sheets for those students making an application under the RTI Act.

Passing the path-breaking order that will be lapped up by students, but may cause consternation among the teaching fraternity, a bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik dismissed a bunch of appeals filed by the Central Board of Secondary Education, West Bengal Board of Secondary Education, Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI), University of Calcutta, West Bengal Central School Services Commission and Assam Public Services Commission who had challenged the Judgement of the High Court.

The petitioners had challenged rulings by different information commissioners under the RTI Act directing them to show the answer-sheets to the students.

The basic contention of all these education boards, Calcutta University and ICAI was that there was a fiduciary relationship between the examiner and the board, and hence it was not proper to show the answer-sheet to the student. CBSE had claimed exemption from the ambit of RTI Act.

The Supreme Court held that evaluated answer-sheets were covered under the definition of “information” under the RTI Act, 2005 and reiterated the duty of the public authority to allow maximum disclosure as envisaged by the RTI. Explaining the scope of the ‘fiduciary relationship’ of the agency holding the examination, the Bench held that bodies conducting examinations could not retain evaluated answer sheets in any fiduciary capacity and contend that they would not disclose the same.

Welcoming the judgment, the National Campaign for People’s Right to Information, said: “The NCPRI believes this ruling would positively affect the transparency rights of lakhs of students of all kinds across the country including examinations conducted by school boards, universities and public service commissions

The move will help make the education system more transparent and administrators more accountable, said Sobha Mishra, head of education at Industry Lobby, FICCI.

“If someone sat for an exam, he should not be denied the right to see his answer paper once the result is out. No institute or exam-conducting body should ever resist such disclosure,” she said.

The verdict will benefit lakhs of students appearing for various examinations, including CA Exams conducted by the ICAI, as it gives a student the right to inspect answer-sheets by just applying to the relevant university, council, board or commission.

Background of the Case

This case had reached the Supreme Court from high court which in its earlier judgment had permitted a student, Pritam Rooj, to inspect his answer sheets. Rooj was a student of mathematics in the Presidency College.

In 2006, when he sat for the first part of degree examination he secured 52 percent marks. In the second year he got 208 out of 400 marks and got just 28 marks out of 100 in the fifth paper. Upon seeking re-evaluation, his marks increased by four in the fifth paper.

He contended that his poor marks stood in the way of his getting admission in post-graduation course and applied to inspect his mark sheet under the RTI law which was rejected. The university said that the answer sheets of an examinee cannot be shared.

He then approached the Calcutta High Court and the High Court announced in the favour the Student. Calcutta University challenged the order of the High Court and approached the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court on 9th August 2011 upheld the judgement of the high court and ordered Answer sheets to be disclosed under RTI.

Various Institutes like ICAI have now started disclosing answer sheets and have streamlined the Procedure for Disclosure of Answer Sheets