DOES NOT MENTION EVALUATION OF ANSWER SHEETS UNDER RTI AT RS. 10
Despite a Supreme Court order in a contempt petition last year to provide copies of answer sheets to students as per the Rates prescribed in RTI Rules, CBSE has again issued a notice on May 29, which seems to be in violation of the court’s order.
As per the May 29 notice, a student will have to pay Rs. 700 per subject for obtaining a copy of the answer sheet. Moreover, only those students who have applied for verification of marks will be eligible for obtaining such answer sheets. Since a fee of Rs. 500 has to be paid for verification, a student will have to effectively shell out Rs. 1200 for getting a copy of the answer sheet.
In 2011, the Supreme Court in its judgment in CBSE v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay had held that answer sheets would come under the ambit of “information” as per Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act, 2015. In effect, the answer sheets ought to have been made available as per the rates prescribed in the RTI Rules. According to Rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005, apart from the 10-rupee application fee, the applicant would have to pay Rs. 2 for each page of information sought.
In 2015, the CBSE had come out with a notice, which states that students who intend to verify their marks would have to pay a fee of Rs. 300. Further, to obtain a copy of the answer book, an additional fee of Rs. 700 would have to be paid.
Pursuant to this a contempt petition was filed in Supreme Court in 2016 by two Amity Law School students – Kumar Shanu and Paras Jain. The Court had disposed of the contempt petition after directing CBSE to scrupulously follow the directions in the 2011 judgment of the Court in CBSE v. Aditya Bandhopadhya.
Despite all these, the Board has now again come out with a fresh notice prescribing fees for obtaining answer sheets. Interestingly, while the 2015 notice clearly stated that RTI requests for obtaining answer sheets will not be accepted, the current notice is silent on the aspect of RTI. This could result in students, who are unaware of the RTI route, ending up paying Rs. 1200 for answer sheets.
Will the 2017 notice amount to contempt of court? If yes, is this move by CBSE deliberate or unintentional? A fresh contempt of court action might answer these questions.