- Apprentice Lawyer
- Legal Jobs
WHIP (Whistle for Public Interest), an organization run by law students, has taken on the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE). Once again.
This time around, the students have filed a contempt petition against the education authority in the Supreme Court of India.
The matter relates to the exorbitant RTI fees levied by CBSE on students seeking access to answer sheets, a fact that was found when one of the members of WHIP filed an RTI seeking information on the procedure by which the CBSE issued evaluated answer sheets to candidates.
In its reply to this RTI, the Board attached a notice dated May 26, 2015, which states that students who intend to verify their marks would have to pay a fee of Rs. 300. Further, to obtain a copy of the answer book, an additional fee of Rs. 700 would have to be paid.
The notice also states that these processes are “interlinked”, meaning that no candidate can obtain a photocopy of the answer book without applying for verification of marks. Therefore, candidates seeking copies of answer sheets would have to shell out a total of Rs. 1,000 per subject.
In doing so, contends WHIP, the Board has failed to take into account the Supreme Court’s judgement in CBSE v. Aditya Bandhopadhyay, wherein it was held that an answer-sheet would fall under the ambit of ‘information’ under Section 2(f) of the Right to Information Act, 2015.
It is the CBSE’s non-compliance of this very judgment that has deemed their actions contemptuous, according to WHIP.
In January of this year, the students had made a representation to the CBSE Chairmanmade a representation to CBSE Chairman demanding that the answer sheets be made available as per the rates prescribed in the RTI Rules. According to Rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005, apart from the 10-rupee application fee, the applicant would have to pay Rs. 2 for each page of information sought.
The students had sought a reply from the Chairman by February 16 this year, failing which they had said that the would initiate contempt proceedings in the Supreme Court. And it seems that the students have come good on a promise.
This is not the first time the students have approached the courts to highlight lacunae in the implementation of the RTI Act. Just last month, they were successful in getting the Delhi High Court RTI Rules amended, after they filed a writ in the High Court challenging the high application fees charged for copies of information.
Read the petition: