SC: UPSC Marks can’t be Disclosed Mechanically under RTI

0
507

February 23, 2018

Case name: Union Public Service Commission Etc. v. Angesh Kumar & ors.

Date of Judgment: February 20, 2018

In the case, the respondents who were unsuccessful candidates in the Civil Services (Preliminary) Examination, 2010 have approached the High Court for a direction to the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to disclose the details of marks (raw and scaled) awarded to them in the Civil Services (Prelims) Examination 2010. The information in the form of cut-off marks for every subject, scaling methodology, model answers and complete result of all candidates were also sought. Learned Single Judge in the case had directed that the information sought be provided within fifteen days and the said view was also affirmed by the Division Bench of the High Court.

UPSC in the case has argued that the High Court has not correctly appreciated the scheme of the Right to Information Act, 2005 (the Act) and the binding decisions of this Court. It was inter alia contended that though Sections 3 and 6 of the Act confer right to information (apart from statutory obligation to provide specified information under Section 4), Sections 8, 9 and 11 provide for exemption from giving of information as stipulated therein.

Where information is likely to conflict with other public interest, including efficient operation of the Government, optimum use of fiscal resources and preservation of confidentiality of some sensitive information, exclusion of right or information can be applied in a given fact situation.

Bench’s Verdict

The Two-Judge Bench of the Supreme Court allowed the appeal and made following observations in the case:

  1. That 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, information sought with regard to marks in Civil Services Exam cannot be directed to be furnished mechanically.
  2. That furnishing raw marks will cause problems which would 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.
  • That if rules or practice so require, certainly such rule or practice can be enforced.

Other important cases on the issue which were referred by the Bench are as under:

Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr. v. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors.[1]– When trying to ensure that the right to information does not conflict with several other public interests (which includes efficient operations of the Governments, preservation of confidentiality of sensitive information, optimum use of limited fiscal resources, etc.), it is difficult to visualise and enumerate all types of information which require to be exempted from disclosure in public interest.

It was also observed in the aforesaid judgment that indiscriminate and impractical demands or directions under the RTI Act for disclosure of all and sundry information (unrelated to transparency and accountability in the functioning of public authorities and eradication of corruption) would be counterproductive as it will adversely affect the efficiency of the administration and result in the executive getting bogged down with the non-productive work of collecting and furnishing information.

Prashant Ramesh Chakkarwar v. UPSC[2]This case enumerated the problems in showing evaluated answer books to candidates which inter alia included disclosing answer books would reveal intermediate stages too, including the so-called ‘raw marks’ which would have negative implications for the integrity of the examination system.

The entire case can be accessed here.

[1] (2011) 8 SCC 497

 

[2] (2013) 12 SCC 489