University students will henceforward be able to get photocopies of their answer sheets till they are available and not just within the stipulated period set by the university, the state chief information commissioner has said.
This order was delivered by Ratnakar Gaikwad, the state information chief, on Friday, following a complaint by Vivek Velankar, an RTI activist, against a circular of the Pune University.
Velankar challenged the circular, which lays down that an examinee can ask for a photocopy of the answer sheet for a period of only 10 days from the declaration of results.
Under the rules, the Pune University preserves the answer sheets for up to 90 days. In Mumbai University keeps answer sheets for six months.
Velankar cited a Supreme Court order which stated that copies of the answer sheets can be given as long as they are preserved with the universities.
The commission observed that as per section 2(j) of the RTI Act, a public authority should give information asked for that is “held” by it or is “under its control”. Hence, photocopies of the answer sheets should be given to an applicant till the time they are available with the university.
The commissioner stated that the Pune University circular was not in consonance with the RTI Act and so should be withdrawn.
The commissioner also ordered the university to remove two other clauses with regard to the photocopies. The first clause stated that the information should not be misused by the examinees to jeopardise the reputation of the university. In the second clause the university said it could not be held liable for failure or delay to provide photocopies due to reasons beyond its control.
When asked for a reaction to the state information commissioner’s order, Naresh Chandra, pro-vice chancellor of Mumbai University, said he was busy and would comment later,
The facility to grant photocopies of assessed and/or moderated answer sheets to examinees was introduced with an aim to make the exams system transparent and ensure credibility.
After checking the answer sheet, students can bring to the notice of their college principal any mistake in totalling of marks or non-assessment of a question / sub-question. Roughly 20% of students appearing for examinations are known to ask for photocopies.
Responsibility of a public authority
Ratnakar Gaikwad, the state chief information commissioner, observed that according to the RTI Act a public authority should give information asked for that is “held” by it or is “under its control”.
Therefore, photocopies of the answer sheets should be given to an applicant till they are available