17 Feb 2011

IIT cannot deny photocopy of marksheet under RTI: High Court

Holding that the stipulations in the information brochure for Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) prohibiting provision of information could not override the statutory right of the applicants under the Right to Information Act, 2005, the Delhi High Court in a recent decision [Indian Institute of Technology, Delhi v. Navin Talwar] affirmed the decision of the Central Information Commission directing IIT to furnish a copy of the Optical Response Sheet (ORS) filed by the candidate during the examination under the provisions of the Right to Information Act, 2005.

In this context, the High Court observed as under;
15. The right of a candidate, sitting for JEE or GATE, to obtain information under the RTI Act is a statutory one. It cannot be said to have been waived by such candidate only because of a clause in the information brochure for the JEE or GATE. In other words, a candidate does not lose his or her right under the RTI Act only because he or she has agreed to sit for JEE or GATE. The condition in the brochure that no photocopy of the ORS sheet will be provided, is subject to the RTI Act. It cannot override the RTI Act.
The High Court further held that the apprehension "that if the impugned orders of the CIC are sustained it would open a 'floodgate' of such applications by other candidates as a result of which the entire JEE and GATE system would 'collapse' " was "exaggerated. If IIT is confident that both the JEE and GATE are fool proof, it should have no difficulty providing a candidate a copy of his or her ORS. It enhances transparency. It appears unlikely that the each and every candidate would want photocopies of the ORS."

The Court also dismissed the contention of fiduciary relationship in the following terms;
12. Irrespective of the decision dated 23rd April 2007 of the CIC in Rakesh Kumar Singh v. Harish Chander, which in any event is not binding on this Court, it is obvious that the evaluation of the ORS/ORM sheets is through a computerized process and no prejudice can be caused to the IIT by providing a candidate a photocopy of the concerned ORS. This is not information being sought by a third party but by the candidate himself or herself. The disclosure of such photocopy of the ORS will not compromise the identity of the evaluator, since the evaluation is done through a computerized process. There is no question of defence under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act being invoked by the IIT to deny copy of such OMR sheets/ORS to the candidate.

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