ISTM Logo Here

Saturday, January 19, 2019
Hindi Website Button Here
RTI >> Judgments >> Supreme Court >> Brief facts of the Judgment
S.No. SUPREME COURT CASE DATE OF JUDGMENT JUDGMENT
1 Writ Petition(c) No 137 of 2018 27 Sep, 2018 Aseer Jamal Vs Union of India

It has been asserted in the writ that illiterate persons and visually impaired persons or persons afflicted by other kinds of disabilities are not in a position to get the information to get the information.
Provision contained in section 6 suffers from unreasonable classification between visually impaired and visually abled persons violating article 14 of the constitution.
Certain provisions of the act are not accessible to orthopedically impaired persons below the poverty line and persons who do not have the internet.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
Proviso to section 6(1) makes it obligatory on the CPIO to render all reasonable assistance to the persons making the request orally to reduce the same in writing.
As per section 6 (3) we do not find that there can be any difficulty for any person to find out the public authority as there is a provision for transfer.
Several states provide information in Braille to the visually impaired.
Several hotline numbers provide toll free access to information available on the RTI website.
No further direction needs to be issued except granting liberty to the petitioner to submit a representation to the competent authority pointing out any other mode(s) available for getting information under the act.
Authorities to explore any kind of advanced technology that has developed in the meantime so that other methods can be introduced.
Writ petition accordingly disposed of.
2 Civil Appeal Nos. 6159-6162, 5924 of 2013, SLP (C) Nos. 28817, 28801, 28811, 28816, 28805/2014 and SLP (C) No. ... of 2018 20 Feb, 2018 Union Public Service Commission Ors. Vs Respondent: Angesh Kumar and Ors.

The respondents- writ petitioners were unsuccessful candidates in the civil service (prelim) exam, 2010. They approached the high court for a direction to the UPSC to disclose the details of marks (raw and scaled) awarded to them in the civil services prelim exam, 2010. The information in the form of cut off marks for every subject, scaling methodology, model answers and complete result of all candidates were also sought.
Decision of the single judge and the division bench of the high court:
Learned single judge directed that the information sought be provided within 15 days. The said view of the single judge has been affirmed by the division bench of the high court.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
Para 10 : weighing the need for transparency and accountability on the one hand and requirement of optimum use of fiscal resources and confidentiality of sensitive information on the other, we are of the view that the information sought with regard to the marks in civil services exam cannot be directed to be furnished mechanically. Situation of exams of other academic bodies may stand on different footing.
Furnishing raw marks will cause problems as pleaded by the UPSC as quoted above which will not be in public interest. However, if a case is made out where the court finds that public interest requires furnishing of information, the court is certainly entitled to so require in a given fact situation. If rules or practice so require, certainly such rule or practice can be enforced. In the present case direction has been issued without considering these parameters.
11. In view of the above, the impugned order(s) is set aside and the writ petitions filed by the writ petitioners are dismissed. This order will not debar the respondents from making out a case on the above parameters and approach the appropriate forum if so advised.
3 Civil Appeal No 22 of 2009 31 Aug, 2017 Canara Bank Vs CS Shyam and Anr

The requester sought information under section 6 of the RTI act, 2005 regarding transfer and posting of the entire clerical staff from 1/1/02 to 31/7/06 in all the branches of the bank. The information was sought on 15 parameters with regard to various aspects of transfers of clerical staff and staff of the bank with regard to individual employees.
The information was in relation to the personal details of individual employee such as the date of joining, designation, details of promotion earned, transfer orders etc, etc.
The CPIO rejected the request on the grounds that the same was protected under section 8(1)(j) and secondly it had no nexus with any public interest or activity. The first appellate authority also rejected the requester’s appeal.
Aggrieved the requester filed an appeal before the CIC. By order dated 20/2/07 the appeal was allowed and accordingly directions were issued to the bank to furnish the information sought by the requester in his application.
Writ petition before the high court:
Single judge bench of the high court dismissed the writ petition filed by the appellant-bank.
Challenging the said order the appellant- bank filed writ appeal before the high court.
By the impugned order the division bench of the high court dismissed the appellant’s writ appeal and affirmed the order of the CIC which has given rise to this appeal.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
Firstly the information sought by the respondent of individual employees working in the bank was personal in nature; secondly, it was exempted from being disclosed under section 8(1)(j) of the act and lastly, neither respondent no 1 disclosed any public interest involved in seeking such information of the individual employee and nor any finding was recorded by the CIC and the high court as to the involvement of any larger public interest in supplying the information to the respondent.
In this view of the matter we allow the appeal, set aside the order of the high court and CIC and restore the orders passed by the CPIO and chief CPIO. As a result the application submitted by respondent no 1 stands rejected.
4 Case (Civil) No. 91 of 2015. Transfer Petition (Civil) No. 707 of 2012 16 Dec, 2015 RBI Vs Jayntilal N Mistry

Detailed information relating to inspections of banks and financial authorities including the inspection reports carried out by the RBI were requested for by the requester under RTI act, 2005. RBI rejected the request on the ground of economic interest, commercial confidence, fiduciary relationship with other bank etc. The CIC ordered disclosure of the documents requested for. Writ petitions were filed by the RBI in appropriate courts against orders of the CIC.
Transfer petitions:
Various transfer petitions were filed by RBI seeking transfer of the writ petitions pending before different high courts. On 30/5/2015 while allowing the transfer petitions filed by RBI seeking transfer of various writ petitions filed by it in the high courts of Delhi and Bombay the Supreme Court ordered the transfer of the writ petitions to Supreme Court and directed to remit the entire record of the case to the Supreme Court within 4 weeks.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
Para 23 : the specific stand of the RBI is that the information sought for is exempted under section 8(1)(a), (d) &(e) of the RTI act,2005. As the regulator and the supervisor of the banking system, the RBI has discretion in the disclosure of such information in public interest.
Para 60 : RBI is supposed to uphold public interest and not the interest of individual banks. RBI is clearly not in any fiduciary relationship with any bank. RBI has no legal duty to maximize the benefit of any public sector or private sector bank, and thus there is no relationship of ‘trust’ between them. RBI has a statutory duty to uphold the interest of the public at large, the depositors, the country’s economy and the banking sector. Thus RBI ought to act with transparency and not hide information that might embarrass individual banks. It is duty bound to comply with the provisions of the RTI act and disclose the information sought by the respondents therein.
Para 61 : The baseless and unsubstantiated argument of the RBI that the disclosure would hurt the economic interest of the country is totally misconceived………
Para 62 : the exemption contained in section 8(1)(e) applies to exceptional cases and only with regard to certain pieces of information, for which disclosure is unwarranted or undesirable. If information is available with a regulatory agency not in fiduciary relationship, there is no reason to withhold the disclosure of the same.
Para 83 : there is no merit in all these cases and hence they are dismissed.
5 Civil appeal No. 9017 of 2013 07 Oct, 2013 Thalappalam Ser. Coop. Bank Ltd. and others Versus State of Kerala and others

Whether a cooperative society registered under the Kerala cooperative societies act, 1969 will fall within the definition of “public authority” under section 2(h) of the RTI act,2005 and be bound by the obligations to provide information sought for by a citizen under the RTI act.
Writ petition before the Kerala high court (full bench):
A full bench of the Kerala high court answered the question in the affirmative and upheld the circular no 23 of 2006 dated 1/6/06 issued by the registrar of cooperative societies, stating that all the cooperative institutions coming under the administrative control of the registrar are public authorities within the meaning of section 2(h) of the RTI act and obliged to provide information as sought for.
The question was answered by the full bench in view of the conflicting views expressed by a division bench of the Kerala high court in writ appeal no 1688 of 2009, with an earlier judgement of the division bench reported in Thallapalam service coop bank limited vs union of India wherein the bench took the view that the question as to whether a coop society will fall under section 2 (h) of the RTI act is a question of fact, which will depend upon the question whether it is substantially financed directly or indirectly by the funds provided by the state govt. Which the court held has to be decided depending upon the facts situation in each case.
SLP before the Supreme Court:
The coop societies registered under the Kerala coop societies act will not fall within the definition of public authority as defined under section 2 (h) of the RTI act and the state Govt letter dated 5/5/06 and the circular dated 1/6/06 issued by the registrar of coop societies, Kerala to the extant made applicable to societies registered under the Kerala coop societies act would stand quashed in the absence of materials to show that they are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the appropriate Govt.
6 CIVIL APPEAL NO OF 2013 (arising out of SLP(C) No 22609 of 2012) 16 Apr, 2013 R.K. JAIN APPELLANT VERSUS UNION OF INDIA & ANR

The requester sought copies of all note sheets and correspondence pages of file relating to a member CESTAT. The CPIO rejected the request on the ground that the information is exempted under 8(1)(j) of the RTI act,2005.
The first appellate authority also disallowed the appeal of the appellant citing same ground as cited by the CPIO.
Writ petition before the high court:
On being aggrieved the appellant filed a writ petition before the Delhi high court which was rejected by the learned single judge vide judgement dated 8/12/11 relying on a judgement of Delhi high court in Arvind Kejriwal vs CPIO.
On an appeal to the above order, by the impugned judgement dated 20/4/12 the division bench of the Delhi high court in LPA no 22 of 2012 dismissed the same.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
The petitioner in the instant case has not made a bonafide public interest in seeking information, the disclosure of such information would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of the individual under section 8(1)(j) of the RTI act.
We are therefore of the view that the petitioner has not succeeded in establishing that the information sought for is for larger public interest. That being the fact, we are not inclined to entertain this SLP. Hence the same is dismissed.
7 SLP(c) ……/2013 cc 1853/2013 from the judgment and order dated 15/6/12 in WA no 3255/2010 18 Jan, 2013 Karnataka Information Commissioner vs State Public Information Officer

Requester filed an application under section 6(1) of the RTI act,2005 and sought certain documents and information from the PIO of HC of Karnataka. The documents related to guidelines and rules pertaining to scrutiny and classification of writ petitions and the procedure followed by the Karnataka HC in respect of WP nos 26657 of 2004 and 17935 of 2006.
The PIO disposed of the application vide order dated 3/8/07 stating that the information sought is available in the Karnataka HC act and the rules and he can obtain the order sheets of the two writ petitions by filing appropriate application under the HC rules.
Decision of the KIC:
The requester filed a complaint under section 18 of the act before the KIC and made a grievance that the certified copies of the documents had not been made available to him.
The KIC allowed the complaint and directed the PIO to furnish the certified copies free of cost to the requester.
Decision of the Karnataka HC :
PIO challenged the aforesaid order in WP no 9418/2008. The learned single judge allowed the same and quashed the order of the commission stating that the Karnataka HC act and rules could be obtained from the market. As regards information relating to the writ petitions it is open for the requester to file an application for certified copies of the order sheet as per Karnataka HC rules.
The requester did not challenge the order of the learned single judge. Instead the KIC filed an appeal before the division bench along with an application for condonation of delay of 335 days delay. The division bench dismissed the application for condonation of delay and also held that the KIC cannot be treated as an aggrieved person.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
What has surprised us is that while the writ appeal was filed by the KIC, the SLP has been preferred by the Karnataka information commissioner. Learned counsel could not explain as to how the petitioner herein who was not an appellant before the division bench of the HC can challenge the impugned order. He also could not explain as to the locus of the commission to file appeal against the order of the single judge whereby its order has been set aside.
………The commission and the Karnataka information commissioner had no legitimate cause to challenge the order passed by the single judge and the division bench of the HC. Therefore the writ appeal filed by the commission was totally unwarranted and misconceived and the division bench of the HC did not commit any error by dismissing the same.
With the above observations the SLP is dismissed. For filing a frivolous petition the petitioner is saddled with cost of Rs 1,00,000/-.
8 Civil appeal no 9095 of 2012 Arising out of slp (c) no 7529 of 2009 13 Dec, 2012 Manohar Manikrao vs State of Maharashtra

The requester filed an application before the SPIO under RTI act, 2005 seeking information pertaining to persons appointed through reservation, date of joining, caste verification committee report and persons who forwarded the caste certificate for verification after the due date and action taken. The SPIO forwarded the RTI application to the concerned deptt for the information. On non receipt of information within 30 days the requester filed an appeal before the FAA. Without waiting for the decision of the FAA the requester filed an appeal before the sic. The sic fixed a hearing in which the SPIO could not attend due to official commitment and he requested for new date. The sic however did not consider the request of the SPIO and allowed the appeal of the requester, directing the authority to initiate action against the SPIO as per service rules and that the action should be taken within 2 months and reported to the sic within one month. The SPIO thereafter filed a writ petition before the high court against the order of the sic.
Decision of the high court:
The high court dismissed the writ petition observing that the SPIO ought to have passed the appropriate orders in the matter rather than keeping the requester waiting. It was also noticed the contention that the application was so general and vague in nature that the information sought for could not be provided. However it did not accept the same.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
Para 14: state information commissions exercise very wide and certainly quasi judicial powers. In fact their functioning is akin to the judicial system rather than the executive decision making process.
Para 15 : it is a settled principle of law and does not require us to discuss this principle with any elaboration that adherence to the principles of natural justice is mandatory for such tribunal or bodies discharging such functions.
Para 21 : we may notice that proviso to section 20(1) specifically contemplates that before imposing the penalty contemplated under section 20(1), the commission shall give a reasonable opportunity of being heard to the concerned officer. However there is no such specific provision in relation to the matters covered under section 20(2). Section 20(2) empowers the CIC/SIC as the case may be at the time of deciding a complaint or appeal for the reasons stated in that section, to recommend for disciplinary action to be taken against the CPIO/SPIO as the case may be, under the relevant service rules. Power to recommend disciplinary action is a power the exercise of which may impose penal consequences……
Para 22: thus the principles of natural justice have to be read into the provisions of section 20(2)………
Para 31 : ……..we are unable to sustain the order passed by the sic dated 26/2/08 and the judgment of the high court under appeal. Both the judgments are set aside and the appeal is allowed. We further direct that the disciplinary action, if any, initiated by the department against the appellant shall be withdrawn forthwith.
9 CIVIL APPELLATE JURISDICTION CIVIL APPEAL NO. 9052 OF 2012 (Arising out of SLP (C) No.20217 of 2011) 13 Dec, 2012 Bihar Public Service Commission Appellant Vs Saiyed Hussain Abbas Rizwi and Anr Respondents

The applicant filed an application before the BPSC under RTI act, 2005 on 16/12/08 seeking information relating to providing the names and addresses of the subject experts present in the interview board, names and addresses of the candidates who appeared, the interview statement with certified photocopies of the marks of all the candidates, signed statement of average marks allotted to candidates and certified copy of the merit list.
The application remained pending for a considerable time with the commission leading to filing of an appeal before the sic. The sic directed the PIO that the information sought be made available to the applicant. Information which could be supplied was given to the applicant by the BPSC and the sic informed of the same who closed the proceedings. Aggrieved by the action of the sic the applicant challenged the same by filing a writ before the high court of Patna.
Decision of the high court:
The learned judge of that court dismissed the writ petition considering provision of section 8(1)(j) of the RTI act, 2005.
Feeling aggrieved the applicant challenged the judgment of the learned single judge before the division bench of that court by filing LPA no 102 of 2010. The division bench took the view that the provisions of section 8(1)(j) were not attracted in the facts of the case. The court in its order dated 20/1/11 accepted the appeal, set aside the order of the learned single judge and directed the BPSC to provide names of the members of the interview board. The BPSC has challenged the legality and correctness of the said judgment by way of SLP.
Decision of the Supreme Court in brief:
Para 30 : ………the disclosure of names and addresses of the members of the interview board would ex facie endanger their lives or physical safety. The possibility of a failed candidate attempting to take revenge from such persons cannot be ruled out. On the one hand it is likely to expose the members of the interview board to harm and on the other such disclosure would service no fruitful much less any public purpose. Furthermore the view of the high court in the judgement under appeal that element of bias can be traced and would be crystallized only if the names and addresses of the examiners /interviewers are furnished is without any substance…………….marks are required to be disclosed but disclosure of individual names would hardly hold relevancy either to the concept of transparency or for proper exercise of the right to information within the limitation of the act.
For the reasons aforesaid we accept the present appeal, set aside the judgement of the high court and hold that the commission (BPSC) is not bound to disclose the information asked for by the applicant under query 1 of the application.
10 Civil appeal No 27734 of 2012 03 Oct, 2012 Girish Ramchandra Deshpande Vs Central Information Commission and Ors

The petitioner requested for information relating to the third respondent’s personal matters pertaining to his service career and also details of his assets and liabilities, movable and immovable properties etc which was denied by the CIC. He submitted an application containing 15 queries to the regional provident fund commissioner which were rejected mainly under section 8(1)(j) of RTI act.
Aggrieved by the said order the petitioner approached the CIC. The CIC ordered to disclose only the posting details/posting orders. Remaining queries were rejected under 8(1)(j) of RTI act.
Writ petition before the high court :
The petitioner’s writ petition which came up for hearing before a learned single judge was dismissed. The matter was taken up by way of lpa before the division bench and the same was also dismissed. Against the said order this SLP had been filed.
Developments before the Supreme Court :
The question that came up for consideration is whether the information sought for qualifies to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of section 8(1) of the RTI act. The apex court stated as follows:-
“we are in agreement with the CIC and the courts below that the details called for by the petitioner ie copies of all memos issued to the third respondent, show cause notices and orders of censure/punishment etc are qualified to be personal information as defined in clause (j) of section 8(1) of the RTI act. The performance of an employee/officer in an organisation is primarily a matter between the employee and the employer and normally those aspects are governed by the service rules which fall under the expression “personal information” the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or public interest. On the other hand, disclosure of which would cause unwarranted invasion of privacy of that individual. Of course in a given case if the CPIO or SPIO or the appellate authority is satisfied that the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information, appropriate orders could be passed but the petitioner claim those details as a matter of right.”

Comments : a very important judgment defining the most frequently used clause relating to personal information i.e. 8(1)(j).
11 CIVIL WRIT PETITION (CIVIL) NO. 210 of 2012 13 Sep, 2012 Namit Sharma Vs Union of India

The petitioner has approached the supreme court of India under article 32 of the constitution stating that though the RTI act,2005 is an important tool in the hands of any citizen to keep checks and balances on the working of the public servants, yet the criterion for appointment of the persons who are to adjudicate the disputes under this act are too vague, general, ulta vires the constitution and contrary to the established principles of law laid down by a plethora of judgements of the supreme court of India. It is the stand of the petitioner that the persons who are appointed to discharge judicial or quasi judicial functions or powers under the RTI act, 2005 ought to have a judicial approach, experience, knowledge and expertise. ……………….complete lack of judicial expertise in the commission may render the decision making process impracticable, inflexible and in given cases contrary to law.
Decision of the Supreme Court:
The order of the Hon’ble supreme court records elaborate discussions and reasons. The court passed the following order and directions:
The writ petition partly allowed.
The provisions of section 12(5) and 15(5) of the act of 2005 are held to be constitutionally valid, but with the rider that, to give it a meaningful and purposive interpretation, it is necessary for the court to read into these provisions some aspects without which these provisions are bound to offend the doctrine of equality. Thus we hold and declare that that the expression ‘knowledge and experience’ appearing in these provisions would mean and include a basic degree in the respective field and the experience gained thereafter.
There is an absolute necessity to reword or amend the provisions of sections 12(5), 12(6) and 15(5).
Central Govt to frame rules to make working of the information commissions effective and in consonance with the basic rule of law.
Commission is a judicial tribunal performing functions of judicial as well as quasi judicial nature and having the trappings of a court.
First appellate authority preferably should be possessing degree in law/adequate knowledge and experience in the field of law.
The information commissions shall work in benches of two members each, one being a judicial member while the other an expert member.
Appointment of the information commissioners should be made in consultation with the chief justice of India/chief justice of the state.
Appointment of information commissioners should be made from amongst the persons empanelled by the DoPT in the case of centre/concerned ministry in the case of a state.
Panel should be placed before a high powered committee for final recommendation to the president.
Selection process to commence three months in advance prior to occurrence of vacancy.
This judgement shall have effect only prospectively.
Orders of the commission are subject to judicial review before the high court and then before the Supreme Court. Information commission is bound by the law of precedence i.e. judgements of the high court and the supreme court of India.
The rule of precedence is equally applicable to intra appeals or references in the hierarchy of the commission.
12 SLP CRL nos 1909 and 1938 of 2011 and 2442 and 2091-2092 0f 2012 10 Jul, 2012 Subhash Popatlal Dave vs Union of India and anr

This judgement relates to orders of preventive detention at the pre-execution stage. One of the issues discussed in the judgement inter-alia is applicability of the RTI act, 2005 in this context.
SLP before the Supreme Court:
………not much discourse is required with regard to the primacy of the provisions of the constitution, vis-à-vis the enactments of the legislature. It is also not necessary to emphasize the fact that the provisions of the constitution will prevail over any enactment of the legislature, which itself is a creature of the constitution. Since clause(5) of article 22 provides that grounds for detention are to be served on a detenu after his detention, the provisions of section 3 of the RTI act, 2005 cannot be applied to cases relating to preventive detention at the pre execution stage. In other words, section 3 of the RTI act has to give way to the provisions of clause (5) of article 22 of the Constitution.

Comments: A very important judgement relating to application of the provisions of the RTI act vis-à-vis the constitutional provisions. Very useful for police and other investigation agencies.
13 Civil Appeal Nos. 10787-10788 of 2011 12 Dec, 2011 Chief Information Commission Vs State of Manipur

Two applicants filed requests under section 6 of RTI act, 2005 seeking information relating to magisterial inquiries initiated by the Govt of Manipur from 1980-2006/1980-march 2007. As the applications under section 6 received no response the applicants filed complaints under section 18 of the Act before the state chief information commissioner who directed the state of Manipur to furnish the information within 15 days. The said direction was challenged by the state by filing a writ petition before the high court.
Writ petition before the high court:
Both the writ petitions were heard together and were dismissed by a common order dated 16/11/07 by learned single judge of the high court by inter alia upholding the order of the commissioner. Writ appeals were filed against both the judgements before the division bench of the high court which were disposed of in July 2010. The high court held that under section 18 of the act the commissioner has no power to direct the respondent to furnish the information and further held that such a power has already been conferred under section 19(8) of the act on the basis of an exercise under section 19 only. The division bench further came to hold that the direction to furnish information is without jurisdiction and directed the commissioner to dispose of the complaints in accordance with law.

SLP before the Supreme Court:
We uphold the said contention (of the high court) and do not find any error in the impugned judgement of the high court whereby it has been held that the commissioner while entertaining a complaint under section 18 of the said act has no jurisdiction to pass an order providing for access to the information.
This court directs the applicants to file appeals under section 19 of the act in respect of the two requests by them for obtaining information vide applications dated 9/2/07 and 19/5/07 within a period of four weeks from today. If such an appeal is filed following the statutory procedures by the appellants the same should be considered on merits by the appellate authority without insisting on the period of limitation.
The appeals if filed will be decided in accordance with section 19 of the act and as early as possible preferably within three months of their filing.
Comments : A very important difference between section 18 and section 19 of the RTI act has been brought out. This judgement is particularly important for the appellate authorities.
14 Civil appeal No 7571 of 2011 02 Sep, 2011 The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India Appellant Vs Shaunak H Satya and Ors

One of the functions of the ICAI is to conduct the examination of candidates for enrolment as chartered accountants. The first respondent who was not successful in the examination applied for verification of marks. No discrepancy was found in the evaluation of answer scripts. The respondent thereafter sought information under 13 heads relating to qualifications of examiners, procedure of evaluation, selection of examiners, no of students appeared in the last two years etc.
The ICAI gave information in r/o all the 13 queries.

Not being satisfied with the response of the ICAI the respondent filed an appeal with the first AA who dismissed the appeal concurring with the CPIO.
Decision of cic
The respondent thereafter filed a second appeal before the CIC who also rejected the appeal while directing the ICAI to disclose certain information w.r.t the questions. However, information relating to the following main queries(3,5 and 15) were rejected by the CIC :
3) instructions issued to examiners and moderators oral and written if any.
5) model answers if any given to the examiners and moderators if any
15) number of times that the council has revised the marks of any candidate or any class of candidates in accordance with regulation 39(2) of the chartered accountants regulations, the criteria used, quantum of such revision, authority deciding such revision and number of students affected by such revision in the last five years.
Writ petition before the Bombay high court:
Feeling aggrieved the petitioner filed a writ petition before the Bombay high court. The Bombay high court allowed the writ petition holding that information sought against queries 3, 5 and 13 could not have been denied by the authorities to the petitioner. The principal defence of the respondent (ICAI) is that the information is confidential. Till the result of the examination is declared, the information sought by the petitioner has to be treated as confidential, but once the result is declared, in our opinion, that information cannot be treated as confidential.

SLP before the Supreme Court:
The following question were considered by the apex court : (a) whether the instructions and solutions to questions given by ICAI to examiners and moderators are intellectual property of the ICAI – the answer being ‘yes’ (b) whether providing the instructions and solutions to questions of ICAI to the petitioner involved infringement of copy right – the answer being ‘no’ (c) whether the instructions and solutions made available the examiners in their fiduciary capacity and therefore exempted – the answer being ‘yes’ (d) whether the high court was justified in directing the appellant to furnish the information w.r.t query no 13 – the answer being as the information was not available in the form of data, ICAI is not bund to furnish the same.
The CIC rightly held that the information sought under queries (3) and (5) were exempted under section 8(1)(e) and that there was no larger public interest requiring denial of the statutory exemption regarding such information.
As information relating to query 13 are not maintained and is not available in the form of data with the appellant (ICAI) in its records, ICAI is not bound to furnish the same.
Order of the high court is set aside and the order of the CIC is restored, subject to one modification in regard to query 13 : ICAI to disclose to the first respondent, the standard criteria, if any, relating to moderation employed by it for the purpose of making revisions under regulation 39(2).
Comments : another important judgement related to ‘copy right’, ‘fiduciary relationship’, larger public interest and the need for transparency in the examination bodies.
15 Civil appeal No. 6454 of 2011 09 Aug, 2011 Central Board of Secondary Education and Anr Appellants vs Aditya Bandopadhyay and Ors

Facts of the case:

Disappointed by his marks in the sec school exam, Shri Aditya Bandopadhyay(respondent) made a request under the RTI act, 2005 for inspection and re-evaluation of his answer books. CBSE rejected the request under section 8(1)(e), larger public interest, examination byelaws and an earlier CIC order dated 10/2/2006.

Developments before the Calcutta high court:

Feeling aggrieved the respondent filed a writ petition (wp) before the Calcutta high court and sought the following reliefs: (a) excluding re-evaluation of answer provision by the CBSE was illegal and violative of the constitution of India (b) appoint an independent examiner for re-evaluating his answer book (c) produce his answer books for review and inspection (d) section 8(1)(e) of the RTI act relied upon by the CBSE was not applicable.
The division bench of the high court held that the evaluated answer books of an examinee writing a public examination conducted by statutory bodies like CBSE/board/university being a document, manuscript, record and opinion fell within the definition of information as defined in section 2(f) of RTI act…………….in view of right to information, the examining bodies were bound to provide inspection of evaluated answer books to the examinees who sought information. The high court however rejected the prayer made by the examinees for re-evaluation of the answer books as that was not a relief that was available under RTI act.
Feeling aggrieved by the direction to grant inspection, CBSE filed SLP before the Supreme Court.

Developments before the Supreme Court :
The Supreme Court upheld the order of the Calcutta high court directing the examining bodies to permit examinees to have inspection of their answer books.

The Supreme Court also gave the following important directions:

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 information under the RTI act.
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 under section 8(1)(e), the examining body will be bound to provide access to an examinee to inspect and take copies of his evaluated answer books.

Once the examiner has evaluated the answer books he ceases to have any interest in the evaluation done by him. He does not have any copy right or proprietary right or confidentiality right in regard to the evaluation. Therefore it cannot be said that the examining body holds the evaluated answer books in a fiduciary relationship, qua the examiner.

The information as to the names or particulars of the examiners/coordinators/scrutinizers/head examiners are exempted from disclosure under section 8(1)(g) of the RTI act on the ground that if such information is disclosed, it may endanger their physical safety.

Comments: an extremely important judgment for training institutions and examining bodies. The concept of fiduciary relationship has been explained threadbare.
Total Case uploaded: 18