The CBSE has denied before the Supreme Court the allegation that it charged fees of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1,200 per subject for providing Photostats of evaluated answer sheets to the candidates of Classes X and XII.
In an affidavit filed before the Supreme Court, CBSE chairperson Anita Karwal said, “I deny that fee of rupees 1,200 for obtaining the photostat copies of evaluated answer books is being charged for providing photostat copies and the RTI rules framed under the Right to Information Act.”
The board said: “It is only where the process of providing photocopy of answer books gets linked with the process of redressal of the grievances of the students who seek revaluation of the answer book besides and in addition to receiving photocopies of the answer books that the student candidate would be required to pay an amount of Rs. 700 for Class 12 and not rupees 1200 as contended. These charges are not applicable for any request only for supply of photostat copy of answer books under the provisions of the RTI.”
The affidavit also stated that after the declaration of result the board invites application for verification of marks which is a separate procedure and existed even before the implementation of RTI Act.
“…Under the provision of verification of marks on receipt of request from the candidate, CBSE appoints examiners who are deputed for checking of the answer books whether the marks were given for each answer and correctly added in the front page of the answer book for which aside from administrative cost of the Board, the examiners are paid honorarium, refreshment, meals and conveyance etc for working day and night and sometimes working late in the night to complete the work in the given time frame out of the processing charges,” it said.
The board also said it has framed separate formats of applications to ensure that students who are only desirous of obtaining a photocopy of the answer sheet under the provisions of the RTI Act are not required to make any payment over and above the fee prescribed under the RTI Act.
Besides, it said in the affidavit that it is not receiving any grant from the Centre and it charges the lowest examination fee in the country.
The affidavit has been filed in response to notice issued by the court on a contempt petition moved by advocates Kumar Shanu and Paras Jain, the co-founders of Whistle for Public Interest (WHIP).
The contempt plea challenged a notification issued by the CBSE on May 29, 2017, saying it prescribed a fee of Rs. 1,000 and Rs. 1,200 for candidates of Class X and XII seeking evaluated answer sheets, even as the same is available under the RTI Act for a mere fee of Rs. 2 per page and the application fee of Rs. 10.
The CBSE said in the affidavit that “the notice dated May 29, 2017 regarding the modalities in respect of the process of verification and obtaining photostat copies of evaluated answer books of the candidates who have appeared in Senior School Certificate Examination 2017 was issued by the Controller of Examination CBSE”.
It said CBSE has, like any other examination body, developed a mechanism to provide an inspection of answer books of the students.
“Those candidates who only seek copies of the answer sheet are charged the fees strictly in terms of the RTI Act. The fee which has been prescribed under the RTI Act does not stipulate any revaluation or retotalling of marks etc. For providing the copies of the answer sheets on the applications and the RTI the CBSE receives the fee only as per the norms laid down by the RTI Act or the rules made thereunder,” it said.
The board said in order to device a mechanism for inspection of the answer books, a lot of logistic arrangement is needed for which mechanism has to be developed in all its 10 regional offices.
“Accordingly, the Board, which always endeavours in introducing new initiatives and reforms in examination processes as a step towards complete transparency has issued a notification on June 21, 2012 for providing photo copies of answer books to the candidates by speed post after charging the processing fee,” said the affidavit.
It said in addition to process of seeking copies of the answer sheets, if any, candidate also applies for re-evaluation or retotalling of its answer book requiring a procedure for processing and meeting with any such requirement then it does not get restricted to the simple activity of providing a copy of the examination sheet without there being any other requirement, but it also necessarily requires huge infrastructure and manpower for handling such request for revaluation/retotalling. This also requires significant funds for that purpose.
The board also informed that from 2017 and onwards, besides and in addition to the availability of the interlink process of verification of marks and obtaining scanned images of answer books for availing facility of revaluation of answer books, there was no bar for any candidate to seek the photocopy of his or her answer book under the RTI Act and rules framed under the Act and pay the fee for that purpose as per prescription made under the RTI Act.
“Accordingly, only all the regional offices of the Board have been providing the photo copies of the answer books to the candidates under the provisions of the Right to Information Act if any candidate has applied thereunder. The fee for that purpose is as per the prescription made under the RTI,” it deposed.