With the CBSE chairperson stating on oath that the board is providing evaluated answer sheets for Rs 2 per page if the same is being sought specifically under the RTI Act, the Supreme Court on Monday disposed of the contempt petition against CBSE for charging an exorbitant fee of as much as Rs 1,000 and Rs 1,200 from candidates of Class X and XII, respectively.
A bench of Chief Justice Ranjan Gogoi, Justice Sanjay Kishan Kaul and Justice KM Joseph disposed of the contempt petition after taking note of the affidavit filed before it by CBSE chairperson Anita Karwal wherein she had said, “I deny that fee of rupees 1200 for obtaining the photostat copies of evaluated answer books is being charged for providing photostat copies under the RTI rules framed under the Right to Information Act.”
The board had also expressly stated that "In compliance of the directions given by the Supreme Court in its order dated 16.08.2016…the CBSE is supplying photocopy of the answer book to the candidates at the rate of Rs 2 per page as per the provisions of the RTI Rules and other conditions stipulated, if the candidates are specifically seeking the photocopy of their answer books under the provisions of RTI Act by submitting application accompanied by a fee of Rs 10…”
CBSE had further stated that “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 photo copies 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 the supply of photostat copy of answer books under the provisions of the RTI”.
The affidavit had been filed in response to the contempt petition moved by advocates Kumar Shanu and Paras Jain, the co-founders of Whistle for Public Interest (WHIP) challenging 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.
They had earlier also dragged CBSE to court in 2016 by way of a contempt petition for non-compliance of the apex court’s decision in a case titled CBSE vs Aditya Bandopadhyay & Others, wherein it was held that candidates have right to inspect their answer sheets under the RTI Act.
The court had, while disposing of the first contempt petition moved by the WHIP, asked CBSE to follow the directions passed in Bandopadhyay’s case.
With the May 29, 2017 notice, WHIP once again moved court following which CBSE stated in its affidavit that, “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”.
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.