Information regarding examination conducted for the post of Maintainer Electrician - CIC: Furnish a copy of list of the selected candidates along with the marks secured as also the formula adopted in Normalisation Process by DMRC
O R D E R
RTI – 1: File No. CIC/DMRCP/A/2018/627844–BJ
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 09 points regarding the examination conducted in reference to the Advertisement No DMRC/OM/HR/1/2016 for the post of Maintainer Electrician NE 8 (A); category wise cut off marks of the candidates selected in the main merit list; number of candidates finally selected and issues related thereto. The Mgr/ CC/ Coordinator/ Centralised RTI Cell vide its letter dated 20.03.2018 transferred the RTI application to 13 CPIOs in the Public Authority. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The order of the FAA, if any, is not on the record of the Commission.
RTI – 2 File No. CIC/DMRCP/A/2018/628759-BJ
The Appellant vide his RTI application sought information on 09 points regarding the examination conducted in reference to the Advertisement No DMRC/OM/HR/1/2016 for the post of Maintainer Electrician NE 8 (A); category wise cut off marks of the candidates selected in the main merit list; number of candidates finally selected and issues related thereto.. The DPIO (HR-2) and JGM/ HR vide its letter dated 06.04.2018 provided a point wise response to the Appellant. Dissatisfied by the response, the Appellant approached the FAA. The FAA, vide its order dated 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. .05.2018, directed the CPIO to provide a copy of his answer sheet to the Appellant.
Facts emerging during the hearing:
The following were present: Appellant: Mr. Sohan Singh through WhatsApp; Respondent: Gp. Capt. Sanjay V. Kute, GM (Legal) & CPIO and Mr. Ashwani Kr. Bagga, Jt. GM / HR through WhatsApp;
The Appellant reiterated the contents of the RTI applications and stated that wrong and misleading information was provided by the CPIO/FAA. He further submitted that the lists of selected candidates were not available on the website of the Respondent Public Authority. Therefore, he inter alia prayed to the Commission to furnish him the list of the selected candidates for the aforementioned examination along with the secured marks as also the formula adopted in Normalisation Process by DMRC. In support of his contention, the Appellant referred to the decisions of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in CBSE v. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors. SLP (C) NO. 7526/2009 dated 09.08.2011 and the Delhi High Court in UPSC V/s Arun Kumar 2015 (1) SLP 165, etc. He alleged large scale corruption in the selection process by the Respondent Public Authority. In its reply, the Respondent submitted that the available information had already been provided to the Appellant. The copy of answer sheet of the Appellant had also been furnished to him. On being queried by the Commission whether the lists of selected candidates were available on the official website, the Respondent replied in the Affirmative. The Appellant vehemently contested the averments of the Respondent and submitted that names of the selected candidates along with the marks secured was not available in the public domain and that the Respondent was duty bound to upload the same as per the decisions of the Superior Courts to maintain transparency and accountability. The Respondent however, agreed to re-examine the matter and furnish the names of the selected candidates along with the secured marks as also the formula adopted in Normalisation Process by DMRC.
The Commission was in receipt of a written submission from the Appellant dated 26.04.2020 wherein the contents of the 2nd Appeal were reiterated once again. The Commission was in receipt of a written submission from the Respondent dated 24.04.2020 wherein while reiterating the replies of the CPIO/FAA, it was submitted that the information sought had already been furnished to the Appellant. A reference was also made to the decision of the Commission in Appeal No. CIC/AD/A/2013/001326 dated 25.06.2014.
The Commission at the outset observed that the issue of access of his own answer sheet by a candidate had been long settled. The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of CBSE and Anr. v. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors. SLP (C) No. 7526/2009 decision dated 9 th August, 2011 observed that every examinee will have the right to access his evaluated answer-books, by either inspecting them or taking certified copies thereof unless the same was exempted under Section 8 (1) (e) of the RTI Act, 2005. The relevant observations made in the judgment are as under:
“11. The definition of ‘information’ in section 2(f) “information” means any material in any form, including records, documents, memos, e-mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, orders, logbooks, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models, data material held in any electronic form and information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force; of the RTI Act refers to any material in any form which includes records, documents, opinions, papers among several other enumerated items. The term ‘record’ is defined in section 2(i) “record” includes. (a) any document, manuscript and file; (b) any microfilm, microfiche and facsimile copy of a document; (c) any reproduction of image or images embodied in such microfilm (whether enlarged or not); and (d) any other material produced by a computer or any other device; of the said Act as including any document, manuscript or file among others. When a candidate participates in an examination and writes his answers in an answer-book and submits it to the examining body for evaluation and declaration of the result, the answer-book is a document or record. When the answer-book is evaluated by an examiner appointed by the examining body, the evaluated answer-book becomes a record containing the ‘opinion’ of the examiner. Therefore, the evaluated answer-book is also an ‘information’ under the RTI Act.”
It was furthermore stated in Para 14 of the above mentioned judgment
“The examining bodies contend that the evaluated answer-books are exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act, as they are ‘information’ held in its fiduciary relationship. They fairly conceded that evaluated answer-books will not fall under any other exemptions in sub section (1) of section 8. Every examinee will have the right to access his evaluated answer-books, by either inspecting them or take certified copies thereof, unless the evaluated answer-books are found to be exempted under section 8(1)(e) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, there shall be no obligation to give any citizen, information available to a person in his fiduciary relationship, unless the competent authority is satisfied that the larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information; of the RTI Act.”
It was furthermore stated in Para 18 of the above mentioned judgment
“In these cases, the High Court has rightly denied the prayer for re-evaluation of answer books sought by the candidates in view of the bar contained in the rules and regulations of the examining bodies. It is also not a relief available under the RTI Act. Therefore, the question whether re-evaluation should be permitted or not, does not arise for our consideration. What arises for consideration is the question whether the examinee is entitled to inspect his evaluated answer-books or take certified copies thereof. This right is claimed by the students, not with reference to the rules or bye-laws of examining bodies, but under the RTI Act which enables them and entitles them to have access to the answer-books as ‘information’ and inspect them and take certified copies thereof. Section 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. of RTI Act provides that the provisions of the said Act will have effect, notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in any other law for the time being in force. Therefore, the provisions of the RTI Act will prevail over the provisions of the bye-laws/rules of the examining bodies in regard to examinations. As a result, unless the examining body is able to demonstrate that the answer-books fall under the exempted category of information described in clause (e) of section 8(1) of RTI Act, the examining body will be bound to provide access to an examinee to inspect and take copies of his evaluated answer-books, even if such inspection or taking copies is barred under the rules/bye-laws of the examining body governing the examinations. Therefore, the decision of this Court in Maharashtra State Board (supra) and the subsequent decisions following the same, will not affect or interfere with the right of the examinee seeking inspection of answer-books or taking certified copies thereof.”
The aforesaid decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India CBSE and Anr. V. Aditya Bandopadhyay was further relied in the decision pronounced on 16.08.2016 by the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in Kumar Shanu and Anr. V. CBSE in I.A. No. 01/2016 in Contempt Petition No. 9837/2016 Civil Appeal NO.6454/2011.
The Commission also referred to several other decisions pertaining to disclosure of a candidate’s own answer script. The Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of Treesha Irish vs. CPIO and Ors., WP (C) No. 6352 of 2006 dated 30.08.2010 while deciding that a candidate was entitled to his own answer sheet had held as under:
21...................... The valued answer paper, if at all, can be personal information relating to the candidate who has written the same. When the candidate applies for copy of the same, it cannot be denied to the candidate on the ground that it is personal information, insofar as, if that information would compromise anybody, it is the candidate himself/herself. The conduct of the examination for selection to the post of Last Grade officials is certainly a public activity and therefore the valuation of answer papers of that examination has relationship to a public activity of the department in the matter of selection to a higher post. A candidate writing an examination has a right to have his answer paper valued correctly and he has a right to know whether the same has been done properly and correctly. Both the public authority and the examiner have a public duty to get the valuation done correctly and properly, which is a public activity and duty. Therefore the supply of the copy of the answer paper, which is for enabling the candidate to ascertain whether the valuation of the answer paper has been done correctly and properly, has relationship to a public activity or interest.
23. There is no provision anywhere in the Act to the effect that information can be refused to be disclosed if no public interest is involved. Of course in a case of personal information, if it has no relationship with any public activity or interest, the information officer has discretion to refuse to disclose the same, if the larger public interest does not justify disclosure of such information. But on the ground of lack of public interest involved alone, the public information officer cannot refuse to disclose the information, without a finding first that the information is personal information having no relationship to any public activity or interest. I am at a loss to understand how disclosure of the valued answer paper would compromise the fairness and impartiality of the selection process. If at all, it would only enhance the fairness and impartiality of the selection process by holding out to the candidates that anybody can ascertain the fairness and impartiality by examining the valued answer papers. In fact, an ideal situation would be to furnish a copy of the answer paper along with the mark lists of the candidates so that they can satisfy themselves that the answer papers have been valued properly and they secured the marks they deserved for the answers written by them. Therefore the reason given in Ext P3, by the 1st respondent, is patently unsustainable.”
Moreover, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of SBI vs. Mohd. Sahjahan LPA 714/2010 dated 09.05.2017 had held as under:
11. In the case in hand, the examiner has returned the answer books to the SBI after completion of the examination. In the light of the principles laid down in Central Board of Secondary Education v Aditya Bandopadhyay the examining body (the SBI in this case) does not hold the evaluated answer sheets (in the written exam) or the assessment sheet of the interview in a fiduciary relationship, qua the examiner/member of the interview board.
Moreover, the Commission also observed that in a recent decision in CIC/UODEL/A/2017/140992-BJ+ CIC/UODEL/A/2017/603074-BJ dated 18.06.2018 it had held that the student was entitled to inspection of his/ her answer sheet. The said decision was also challenged before the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi in the matter of the University of Delhi vs. Shri Mohit Kumar Gupta and Anr in W.P.(C) 9993/2018 dated 24.09.2018, wherein the Court while fixing the next date of hearing in the matter on 30.01.2019 held as under:
“It is clarified that this Court has not stayed the impugned order dated 18.06.2018 and inspection of the evaluated answer sheet shall be provided to the respondent no. 1 as directed. The question whether a student had any right to seek inspection of his/ her answer sheet will be considered on the next date.”
Furthermore, in a recent decision in the matter of Mradul Mishra vs. Chairman, U.P. Public Service Commission and Ors., Civil Appeal No. 6723 of 2018 (Arising Out of SLP No. 33006 of 2017) dated 16.07.2018, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India had while deciding the issue as to whether the Appellant is entitled to see the answer sheets of the examination in which he participated, held as under:
“14. 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.
15. That being the position, we have no doubt that the Appellant is entitled to inspect the answer sheets. Accordingly, 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.”
The Commission also felt that issue under consideration involved Larger Public Interest affecting the fate of all the students who wish to obtain information regarding their answer sheet/ marks obtained by them which would understandably have a bearing on their future career prospects which in turn would ostensibly affect their right to life and livelihood. Hence allowing inspection of their own answer sheet to the students ought to be allowed as per the provisions of the RTI Act, 2005.
The Commission therefore referred to the decision of the Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Bihar Public Service Commission v. Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi: (2012) 13 SCC 61 which while explaining the term “Public Interest” held:
“ 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. . The expression "public interest" has to be understood in its true connotation so as to give complete meaning to the relevant provisions of the Act. The expression "public interest" must be viewed in its strict sense with all its exceptions so as to justify denial of a statutory exemption in terms of the Act. In its common parlance, the expression "public interest", like "public purpose", is not capable of any precise definition. It does not have a rigid meaning, is elastic and takes its colour from the statute in which it occurs, the concept varying with time and state of society and its needs (State of Bihar v. Kameshwar Singh ([AIR 1952 SC 252]). It also means the general welfare of the public that warrants recognition and protection; something in which the public as a whole has a stake [Black's Law Dictionary (8th Edn.)].”
The Hon’ble Supreme Court in the matter of Ashok Kumar Pandey vs The State Of West Bengal (decided on 18 November, 2003Writ Petition (crl.) 199 of 2003) had made reference to the texts for defining the meaning of “public interest’, which is stated as under:
“Strouds Judicial Dictionary, Volume 4 (IV Edition),'Public Interest' is defined thus: "Public Interest (1) a matter of public or general interest does not mean that which is interesting as gratifying curiosity or a love of information or amusement but that in which a class of the community have a pecuniary interest, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected."
In Black's Law Dictionary (Sixth Edition), "public interest" is defined as follows :
Public Interest something in which the public, or some interest by which their legal rights or liabilities are affected. It does not mean anything the particular localities, which may be affected by the matters in question. Interest shared by national government....”
In Mardia Chemical Limited v. Union of India (2004) 4 SCC 311, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India while considering the validity of SARFAESI Act and recovery of non-performing assets by banks and financial institutions in India, recognised the significance of Public Interest and had held as under :
“.............Public interest has always been considered to be above the private interest. Interest of an individual may, to some extent, be affected but it cannot have the potential of taking over the public interest having an impact in the socio-economic drive of the country...........”
Every action of a Public Authority is expected to be carried out in Public Interest. The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of Kumari Shrilekha Vidyarthi, etc vs. State of UP and Ors., 1990 SCR Supl. (1) 625 dated 20.09.1990 wherein it had been held as under:
“Private parties are concerned only with their personal interest whereas the State while exercising its powers and discharging its functions, acts indubitably, as is expected of it, for public good and in public interest. The impact of every State action is also on public interest.”
Similarly, the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of LIC of India vs. Consumer Education and Research Centre, AIR 1995 SC 1811 dated 10.05.1995 had held as under:
“Every action of the public authority or the person acting in public interest or its acts give rise to public element, should be guided by public interest. It is the exercise of the public power or action hedged with public element becomes open to challenge.”
The Commission observed that a voluntary disclosure of all information that ought to be displayed in the public domain should be the rule and members of public who having to seek information should be an exception. An open government, which is the cherished objective of the RTI Act, can be realised only if all public offices comply with proactive disclosure norms. Section 4(2) It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information. of the RTI Act mandates every public authority to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including the Internet, so that the public need not resort to the use of RTI Act.
The Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in the matter of CBSE and Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors 2011 (8) SCC 497 held as under:
“37. The right to information is a cherished right. Information and right to information are intended to be formidable tools in the hands of responsible citizens to fight corruption and to bring in transparency and accountability. The provisions of RTI Act should be enforced strictly and all efforts should be made to bring to light the necessary information under Clause (b) of Section 4(1) of the Act which relates to securing transparency and accountability in the working of public authorities and in discouraging corruption.”
The Commission also observes the Hon’ble Delhi High Court ruling in WP (C) 12714/2009 Delhi Development Authority v. Central Information Commission and Another (delivered on: 21.05.2010), wherein it was held as under:
“16.It also provides that the information should be easily accessible and to the extent possible should be in electronic format with the Central Public Information Officer or the State Public Information Officer, as the case may be. The word disseminate has also been defined in the explanation to mean - making the information known or communicating the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet, etc. It is, therefore, clear from a plain reading of Section 4 of the RTI Act that the information, which a public authority is obliged to publish under the said section should be made available to the public and specifically through the internet. There is no denying that the petitioner is duty bound by virtue of the provisions of Section 4 of the RTI Act to publish the information indicated in Section 4(1)(b) Every public authority shall publish within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of this Act,- (i) the particulars of its organisation, functions and duties; (ii) the powers and duties of its officers and employees; (iii) the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability; (iv) the norms set by it for the discharge of its functions; (v) the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions; (vi) a statement of the categories of documents that are held by it or under its control; (vii) the particulars of any arrangement that exists for consultation with, or representation by, the members of the public in relation to the formulation of its policy or implementation thereof; (viii) a statement of the boards, councils, committees and other bodies consisting of two or more persons constituted as its part or for the purpose of its advice, and as to whether meetings of those boards, councils, committees and other bodies are open to the public, or the minutes of such meetings are accessible for public; (ix) a directory of its officers and employees; (x) the monthly remuneration received by each of its officers and employees, including the system of compensation as provided in its regulations; (xi) the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; (xii) the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; (xiii) particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorisations granted by it; (xiv) details in respect of the information, available to or held by it, reduced in an electronic form; (xv) the particulars of facilities available to citizens for obtaining information, including the working hours of a library or reading room, if maintained for public use; (xvi) the names, designations and other particulars of the Public Information Officers; (xvii) such other information as may be prescribed and thereafter update these publications every year; and 4(1)(c) Every public authority shall publish all relevant facts while formulating important policies or announcing the decisions which affect public; on its website so that the public have minimum resort to the use of the RTI Act to obtain the information.”
Furthermore, High Court of Delhi in the decision of General Manager Finance Air India Ltd & Anr v. Virender Singh, LPA No. 205/2012, Decided On: 16.07.2012 had held as under:
“8. The RTI Act, as per its preamble was enacted to enable the citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority. An informed citizenry and transparency of information have been spelled out as vital to democracy and to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed. The said legislation is undoubtedly one of the most significant enactments of independent India and a landmark in governance. The spirit of the legislation is further evident from various provisions thereof which require public authorities to:
A. Publish inter alia:
i) the procedure followed in the decision making process; ii) the norms for the discharge of its functions; iii) rules, regulations, instructions manuals and records used by its employees in discharging of its functions; iv) the manner and execution of subsidy programmes including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes; v) the particulars of recipients of concessions, permits or authorizations granted. [see Section 4(1) (b), (iii), (iv), (v); (xii) & (xiii)]. B. Suo moto provide to the public at regular intervals as much information as possible [see Section 4(2) It shall be a constant endeavour of every public authority to take steps in accordance with the requirements of clause (b) of sub-section (1) to provide as much information suo motu to the public at regular intervals through various means of communications, including internet, so that the public have minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information. ].”
Keeping in view the facts of the case and the submissions made by both the parties, the Commission directed the Respondent to re-examine the RTI application and furnish a copy of list of the selected candidates along with the marks secured in the aforementioned examination as also the formula adopted in Normalisation Process by DMRC, to the Appellant within a period of 30 days from the date of receipt of this order depending upon the condition for containment of the Corona Virus Pandemic in the Country, as agreed.
The Commission also instructs the Respondent to suo motu disclose the marks of the selected candidates on their website, within the above stipulated time period for the ease and convenience of the public at large.
The Commission also instructs the Respondent Public Authority to convene periodic conferences/ seminars to sensitize, familiarize and educate the concerned officials about the relevant provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 for effective discharge of its duties and responsibilities.
The Appeals stand disposed accordingly.
Chief Information Commissioner
Citation: Mr. Sohan Singh v. Delhi Metro Rail Corporation in Second Appeal No.(s):- CIC/DMRCP/A/2018/627844–BJ+ CIC/DMRCP/A/2018/628759-BJ, Date of Decision : 28.04.2020