Permitting Candidate To Inspect His Answer Sheet Won’t Affect Public Interest Or Govt Functioning: SC [Read Order]

Permitting Candidate To Inspect His Answer Sheet Won’t Affect Public Interest Or Govt Functioning: SC [Read Order]

‘There are issues of confidentiality and disclosure of sensitive information that may arise, but those have already been taken care of in the case of Aditya Bandopadhyay where it has categorically been held that the identity of the examiner cannot be disclosed for reasons of confidentiality.’

While directing the Uttar Pradesh Public Service Commission (UPPSC) to allow a candidate to see the answer sheets of the examination in which he participated, the Supreme Court has observed that permitting a candidate to inspect the answer sheet does not involve any public interest nor does it affect the efficient operation of the government.

Mradul Mishra had approached the high court challenging rejection of his RTI request seeking inspection of the answer sheets. The high court rejected the plea citing provisions of Section 8(1) (e) of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

A bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta observed that it was held in Central Board of Secondary Education and Another Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay that the examining body does not hold the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship and that a candidate for an examination is entitled to inspect the answer books given by him to the examining body.

The UPPSC counsel cited a recent judgment in UPSC v Angesh Kumar, wherein the apex court had held that information sought with regard to details of marks in Civil Services Exam cannot be directed to be furnished mechanically.

In that case, it was observed: “Weighing the need for transparency and accountability on the one hand and requirement of optimum use of fiscal resources and confidentiality of sensitive information on the other, we are of the view that information sought  with regard to marks in Civil Services Exam cannot be directed to be furnished mechanically. Situation of exams of other academic bodies may stand on different footing. Furnishing raw marks will cause problems as pleaded by the UPSC as quoted above which will not be in public interest. However, if a case is made out where the Court finds that public interest requires furnishing of information, the Court is certainly entitled to so require in a given fact situation. If rules or practice so require, certainly such rule or practice can be enforced. In the present case, direction has been issued without considering these parameters.”

Taking note of it, the bench said: “In our opinion, permitting a candidate to inspect the answer sheet does not involve any public interest nor does it affect the efficient operation of the Government. There are issues of confidentiality and disclosure of sensitive information that may arise, but those have already been taken care of in the case of Aditya Bandopadhyay where it has categorically been held that the identity of the examiner cannot be disclosed for reasons of confidentiality. That being the position, we have no doubt that the appellant is entitled to inspect the answer sheets.”

Holding that the candidate is entitled to inspect the answer sheets, the bench ordered: “We direct the respondent – U.P. Public Service Commission to fix the date, time and place where the appellant can come and inspect the answer sheet within four weeks.”

Read the Order Here