Marks awarded to candidates in the interview round of the Delhi Higher Judicial Service Examination are not confidential, but public information, the Delhi High Court has said.
The same flows from the order of Justice Vibhu Bakhru, who directed the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Delhi High Court to share with the petitioner the tabulated statement of marks awarded to all candidates in the interview round of DJS exam, 2013.
The information was denied by the PIO and the CIC had also refused to grant his prayer.
Petitioner Mukesh Kumar, one of the candidates who had appeared for the DJS, 2013, and the interviews held in 2015, approached the high court through advocate Dharmendra Kumar Mishra challenging the order of the CIC which had declined to grant his prayer, holding it to be a third party information while citing case titled THDC India Limited vs RK Raturi decided by the high court in 2013.
Justice Bakhru was, however, of the view that the decision in THDC India Limited case was not applicable to the information sought by Mukesh Kumar as THDC India case pertained to ACR gradings and the court had held that ACR gradings can only be shared with any person other than the employee concerned only if it serves larger public interest.
“In the present case, the issue is not regarding any confidential gradings, but results of a public examination for selecting candidates for appointment to the Delhi Higher Judicial Service.
“The result of the examination is placed in public domain and there is no question of claiming any exemption under section 8 (1)(e) of the (RTI) Act (information to be shared only if it served larger public interest). In the present case, the petitioner seeks details of proceedings drawn/ notings drawn/ on the spot marks awarded to the candidates interviewed on May 18 to May 21, 2015. In addition, the petitioner also seeks a copy of the record of interview marks in typed format,” he noted.
“Insofar as the petitioner’s request for the breakup of the interview marks is concerned, this court does not find any reason why such information ought to be withheld from the petitioner. Clearly, the names of the members of the interview panel are required to be redacted as which member of the interview board awarded what marks to the candidate is not required to be disclosed (as per Supreme Court decision in CBSE vs Aditya Bandopadhyay),” he ordered.
The court, however, held that the handwritten marks awarded by the interview panel forms part of the working papers of the interview panel and cannot be disclosed.
“The present petition is disposed of by directing the respondent to disclose a tabulated statement of the marks awarded to all candidates by the interview panel as available on record,” Justice Bakhru concluded.
In the instant case, Mukesh was one of the candidates who had appeared for the DJS, 2013. The interviews were conducted from May 18 to 21, 2015, and the final result declared on July 20, 2015.
On July 28, 2015 he filed an application with the Public Information Officer of the Delhi High Court seeking to know on the spot marks awarded to 37 candidates in the interview. He was not given the information sought.
In January 2016, he received a response which was not to his satisfaction, as the high court said the information with regard to file notings/ on the spot marks given to candidates in the interview is not available while other queries were termed vague.
The first appellate authority also rejected his appeal. His second appeal was also dismissed by the CIC in August, 2016.
Before the CIC, the PIO of the Delhi High Court submitted that although the information regarding the marks awarded by the interview committee was not traceable earlier, the same had been traced and was now available with the PIO.
The same was informed to the petitioner during the hearing of his instant petition before the high court and the marks obtained by him in the viva voce were also shared with him.
The controversy, thus, was confined to viva voce marks obtained by other candidates. The CIC had declined to grant this prayer holding it to be third party information, forcing Mukesh to move high court by way of the petition which was ultimately decided by Justice Bakhru.