Institute of Banking Personnel Selection is covered under the RTI Act – banking recruitment answer-sheets to be disclosed
In a case filed before the Commission, the appellant sought photocopy of the OMR Sheets and Model Answers concerning the written examination conducted by the Pragathi Gramin Bank. The Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) submitted that they wrote to the Bank concerned to provide the marks awarded to the Appellant while observing that, as a matter of confidentiality, they did not disclose the answer keys.
Through another RTI application, information regarding the details of the “Negative marking applicable” and copy of the “appellant’s answer sheet” for the examination for the promotion to SMG Scale-IV in the Punjab National Bank was sought from the Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS).
The PIO (RTI Cell), Punjab National Bank did not furnish the information as the examination was conducted by the IBPS and the information was not available with the bank. On appeal, the First Appellate Authority (FAA) of the Punjab National Bank informed that there was no negative marking in the examination conducted by the IBPS for the promotion to SMG Scale IV in the Punjab National Bank. The IBPS informed the Commission that the IBPS does not disclose the marks/information to the candidates and the candidate’s request is forwarded to the concerned bank for necessary action. The IBPS submitted that they were not public authority within the meaning of section 2 (h) of the RTI Act. It was also submitted that as more than 10 million candidates appeared annually for the examinations conducted by it, it would be impossible to provide photocopies of the OMR sheets/ answer sheets to individual candidates.
View of CIC
Relying on the judgment of the Supreme Court in Central Board of Secondary Education & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Ors., the Commission held that the answer sheets / OMR Sheets are liable to be disclosed under the RTI Act.
Regarding the issue whether the IBPS is a public authority or not, the Commission noted that the IBPS is an autonomous body registered as a Public Trust under the Bombay Public Trust Act of 1950 and as a Scientific and Industrial Research Organization by the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research, Ministry of Science and Technology, Government of India. Further, the Governing Board of the IBPS consists of the nominees from the Reserve Bank of India, Ministry of Finance (Government of India), National Institute of Bank Management, representatives of Public Sector Banks, and Insurance Sector. The matters related to policy and affairs of the Institute are vested in the Governing Board. This led the Commission to conclude that the IBPS is an organization which is controlled by the Government as well as agencies and instrumentalities of the State falling under the heading “other authorities” within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India.
The Commission also observed that a Public Sector bank is one in which, the Government of India holds a majority stake and may be termed as ‘other authorities’ within the meaning of Article 12 of the Constitution of India. The Commission observed that the Government of India has delegated monopoly power for recruitment for selection of both Clerks and Officers in the Public Sector Banks to the IBPS at the behest of the Public Sector Banks which was hitherto performed by the Recruitment Boards of the Banks. After the evaluation of the papers, the IBPS sends the result and the relevant information to the bank for further process of selection. This means that evaluated answer sheets/OMR sheets are not sent back to the Banks but are retained by the Organisation. The Commission held that a citizen has a right to ask for such evaluated scripts and the answer keys based on which he has been evaluated as the recruitment and selection for public employment is a ‘public function” for which the Agency or instrumentality should be accountable.
The Commission held that a Monopoly given by the Government of India to the IBPS and extensive involvement of the Government in its governing board makes it an agency of the State, as it is functionally dominated by or under the control of the appropriate Government. The IBPS has been given delegated permission/power by the Central Government to carry out the function of recruitment of Clerks and Officers in the Public Sector Banks and thus it is fully dependent on the grant of permission by the Central Government. Any "undertaking", like the IBPS which is not a government undertaking but an autonomous body may function "under the authority" of the Central Government as an agent of the State. The Commission ruled that the IBPS is an “Agency” which operates only under the authority/control of the Central Government to carry out such recruitment programmes in Public Sector Banks and this makes the IBPS a Public authority within the meaning of Section 2 (h) (i) of RTI Act.
In the recruitment and promotions in the public sector banks, this order is going to make a tremendous impact. While the hearing in the case was held on 20 October 2011, the decision in the case was delivered on 13 January 2012 which indicates the time spent by the bench to deliberate on the issue.
Citation: Shri Cyril Michael and others v. Institute of Banking Personnel Selection (IBPS) in File Nos. CIC/SM/A/2010/000873, CIC/SM/C/2009/000200, CIC/SM/C/2010/000655, 000903, 001190, 000897, 001192, 000921, CIC/SM/C/2011/000344, 000459, 000348, 000253, 000274, 000355, 001141, 001123, 000566
RTI Citation : RTIFI/2012/CIC/43
Click here to view original RTI order of Court / Information Commission