CBSE Students, Do Not Hesitate To Ask for Your Answer Sheets under RTI
The Standard X and XII results for Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) are just out and, once again, there is heartburn even amongst the students who have scored over 90%. Some of them told me that they were sure of getting better marks in a particular subject and so were contemplating revaluation. When I suggested that they or their parents could put in a right to information (RTI) application to procure copies of their answer sheets, they found it useful but are hesitating to take the RTI route.
For them and many more, who are wary of using RTI for reasons such as ‘the Principal may get offended’, ‘the school authorities may target them in their junior college years’ (some students have got admission in the same school’s junior college), it is time to understand that every student not only has the right to get his or her answer sheet from CBSE under RTI, but can also get the model answer sheet of the subject. 
In 2018, the Supreme Court, had slammed CBSE for violating its 2015 order in which the Board was ordered to provide answer sheets as per RTI rules, that is, at Rs2 per answer sheet. CBSE finally has declared that it would supply answer sheets under the RTI Act. Therefore, every student who has any doubt about his or her marks must use RTI to know the truth. (Read: SC asks CBSE to provide answer sheets strictly under RTI Act without charging exorbitant fees)
As noted RTI activist Vivek Velankar, who has relentlessly fought for students’ rights of procuring answer sheets in the University of Pune, states, “Most of the students go in for revaluation but it is of no use unless and until you get to see the copy of your answer sheet. Moreover, the student should also ask for the model answer sheet of that subject. Once he gets both the documents, he and his parents can assess whether they should go for revaluation or not. Opting for revaluation blindly is a useless exercise.’’ 
He also adds that, “Sometimes the student is confident that he has given the right answers but often when the copy of the answer sheet and model answer sheet is seen, it might be a different story.”
Mr Velankar also urges the CBSE Board “not to take 30 days for a student who is applying for his answer sheet under RTI as the information is readily available and it is a crucial period for both parents and students to know their marks as early as possible. Also, with the Supreme Court having ordered the CBSE to make answer sheets and model answer sheets, transparent, students and their parents need not fear the school authorities for, they know that they are bound by RTI.”
In addition, parents and students should know that in a June 2018 order from the Central Information Commission (CIC), a student can also do inspection of files under Section 4 of the RTI Act, to procure his or her answer sheet and model answer sheet.
RTI resource persons, Pradeep Bhatt and Vinot Ranganathan, who run a website, state “There are no set of rules or standards that apply in examination evaluation by universities or education boards.
There are no norms or any legal rights for the students over fraudulent practices or biased marking. This has created nightmares for millions of bright students and destroyed the future of promising students across India.
Maintaining and giving answer copies may be extra workload for the educational institution, but it is not a reasonable excuse to deny this information under RTI.
Evaluated answer copies have to be open to the public to ensure transparency in our education system. Any student who has got unexpectedly low marks or has failed is an aggrieved citizen. This student can demand to inspect his results so that the evaluators cannot use unjustified means to act against any student.”
The student, in his or her RTI application, should ask for 1) the copy of his answer sheet of the relevant subject and 2) the model answer sheet of that subject.
Just to recall the earlier events, the CBSE published a notification on 29 May 2018 on its website prescribing an exorbitant fee of Rs1,200 per subject for obtaining copies of the evaluated answer-sheets. 
In response to this notification, a contempt petition was been filed against the CBSE chairman, in the Supreme Court appealing for initiating contempt proceedings against the CBSE chairman; setting aside the CBSE notice of 29th May prescribing the fees of Rs1,000 and Rs1,200 for obtaining copies of the evaluated answer sheets and directing the Board to provide copies of the evaluated  answer-sheets to examinees, only as per the provisions of the RTI Act and at the cost or fee prescribed under the Right to Information Rules, 2012. 
The contempt petition was filed by Whistle of Public Interest (WHIP), for the willful and deliberate attempt of CBSE to surpass and overrule the authority of the apex court of the country. 
Consequently, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justices Ranjan Gogoi and PC Pant directed the chairman CBSE to scrupulously observe the directions of the Supreme Court issued in CBSE & Anr. Versus Aditya Bandhopadhyay & Ors., Civil Appeal No. 6454/2011 and provide copies of the evaluated answer-sheets as per the rules made under the RTI Act. 
CBSE since then has been providing answer-sheets under RTI.
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(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)
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