Central Information Commission, New Delhi File No.CIC/SM/A/2012/001654 & 1708 Right to Information Act2005Under Section (19) Date of hearing : 1 March 2013 Date of decision : 1 March 2013 Name of the Appellant : Shri Manish Goel, 32G, Pocket 2, Phase 2, New Kondali, Mayur Vihar, Ph 3, New Delhi - 110 096. Name of the Public Authority : CPIO, Union Public Service Commission, (Sangh Lok Seva Ayog), Dholpur House, Shahjahan Road, New Delhi - 110 096. The Appellant was present in person. On behalf of the Respondent, the following were present:
(i) Dr. Kulbir Singh, JD & CPIO, (ii) Shri Imran Farid, US (CSM) Chief Information Commissioner : Shri Satyananda Mishra
2. Both the parties were present during the hearing. We heard their submissions.
3. In two separate RTI applications, the Appellant had sought the copies of the evaluated answer sheets for both the Civil Services Main Examination 2011 and Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2012. In addition, he had sought CIC/SM/A/2012/001654 & 1708 some further information regarding the latter examination, such as, the category wise cutoff marks, his own marks as well as the answer key. In the former case, the CPIO had informed him that the evaluated answer sheets had since been weeded out and were not available. In the case of the latter, the CPIO had decided not to disclose any information on the ground that the examination process was yet not over. The Appellate Authority had endorsed the stand taken by the CPIO.
4. We have carefully considered the facts of both the cases and the submissions made before us. As far as the Civil Services Main Examination 2011 is concerned, according to the CPIO, the evaluated answer sheets had been destroyed prior to the filing of the RTI application on 30 July 2012. If that is so, the Appellant deserves to be told the exact date on which these had been destroyed and the rules under which the competent authority had ordered destruction of the records. The CPIO must provide these details to him along with the photocopies of the supporting documents, such as, the relevant retention schedule and the order of the competent authority.
5. However, in respect of the Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2012, the situation is different. Here, the information has been denied on the ground that the examination process is still in progress. This issue has been dealt with by the CIC extensively in the case of Ms Shipra Sud (CIC/SM/A/2012/000135). In that case, in the order dated 27 March 2012, the CIC had held:
"The examination process qua the RTI applicant has come to an end once the Mains examination has begun and she has not been found fit to continue in the three stage selection process. We do not agree with CIC/SM/A/2012/001654 & 1708 the UPSC that the disclosure of the details of marks and answer sheet(OMR Sheet) could potentially stall the entire examination process. The anticipation that candidates can, armed with such information, approach higher courts and obtain stay on the entire examination process or get orders to include themselves is far fetched. This would amount to fearing that higher courts would not apply their minds when confronted with pleas from candidates and would mechanically pass orders derailing the examination process or confer benefits on undeserving candidates."
6. The CIC has held that the Preliminary Examination does not continue to be part of the examination process once completed because it is only a qualifying test and the candidates selected on the basis of this examination are then allowed to take the next stage of the examination, namely, the Civil Services Main Examination. The marks obtained in the Preliminary Examination are not taken into consideration for any other purpose in determining the final success or failure of a candidate in the Mains examination. Therefore, in the opinion of the CIC, treating the Preliminary Examination as a part of the entire examination process and to stall the disclosure of information about this until the end of the entire three tier examination process does not appear to be fair and correct.
7. The Respondent brought to our notice the order of the Supreme Court of India in the Special Leave to Appeal (Civil) No 32443/2010 (Ajay Kumar Mishra & Others vs UPSC) in which the Supreme Court had observed that "in case, in future the UPSC is faced with any difficulty with regard to supplying information in relation to any examinations, the process of which remains incomplete, it will CIC/SM/A/2012/001654 & 1708 be open to it to seek appropriate remedies in accordance with law." He submitted that keeping this in view, the CIC should not compel the disclosure of the information regarding the Preliminary Examination before the completion of the entire examination process. The information sought in the present case is about the Preliminary Examination which is the first and the qualifying stage of the three tier process. As we have explained earlier, the outcome of this examination has no other bearing on the fate of the candidate or candidates appearing in the examination process except that those who fail to make it at this stage are not allowed to take the next stage of the examination, namely, the Mains. Therefore, the disclosure of information for this preliminary stage of the examination process which is almost in the nature of a stand alone exercise, cannot be said to have any impact on the entire examination process.
8. In the light of the above, in our considered opinion, the CPIO must do the following within 15 working days of receiving this order:
i. In regard to the information sought for the Civil Services Main Examination 2011, he must search for the evaluated answer sheets of the Appellant once again and, if found, provide the same to him subject to the final disposal of the matter pending before the Supreme Court in which the UPSC has challenged the order of the Kerala High Court for disclosing similar information and has obtained a stay; ii. he must also provide a copy of the retention schedule according to which these answer sheets had been destroyed including the date on which these were destroyed and the order of the competent authority authorising such destruction;
CIC/SM/A/2012/001654 & 1708 iii. he must provide the entire information sought in respect of the Civil Services Preliminary Examination 2012.
9. Both the cases are disposed off accordingly.
10. Copies of this order be given free of cost to the parties.
(Satyananda Mishra) Chief Information Commissioner Authenticated true copy. Additional copies of orders shall be supplied against application and payment of the charges prescribed under the Act to the CPIO of this Commission.
(Vijay Bhalla) Deputy Registrar CIC/SM/A/2012/001654 & 1708