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The Delhi High Court has dismissed a Class 12 student’s plea for action against the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) under the transparency law for destroying his answer sheets three months after the declaration of result.
Soumik Mitra, a resident of West Bengal who appeared for senior school certificate examination in 2009, had sought imposition of penalty under the Right to Information (RTI) law on officials who were allegedly responsible for the destruction of his answer sheets. The CBSE said the answer sheets were destroyed as per rules. Dismissing his plea, Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said: ?Once it is found that the authorities under the RTI Act were not empowered to make any order on the request of the petitioner for preservation (of answer sheets), it cannot be said that they are liable for any action for not acceding thereto.? ‘Reference to Section 20 of the RTI Act providing for imposition of penalty and prosecution for destruction also has to be seen in the light of other applicable rule,’ said the court in its eight-page order Thursday. ‘Once the examination by-laws of the CBSE permitted it to destroy the answer sheets within three months of the declaration of the result, destruction in accordance with the by-laws cannot be said to invite penalties under the RTI Act,’ said Justice Endlaw. ‘There is no merit in the petition. The same is dismissed,’ said the court. The petition said Mitra’s result was declared in May 2009. He applied for rechecking and ‘June 22, 2009, the CBSE intimated him that upon re-checking, no mistake had been detected’. Mitra then approached the Calcutta High Court, which called for the answer scripts. The CBSE presented the scripts to the court. The petitioner Oct 7, 2009, filed an application under the RTI Act that the answer sheets be supplied to him. His application was rejected as the CBSE said that it had destroyed the scripts after three months of the declaration of results. Justice Endlaw said: ‘The petitioner in the present case was before the Calcutta High Court with respect to his result and the court immediately called for the answer sheets and recorded its satisfaction that all questions answered by the petitioner had been duly assessed and there was no error.’ ‘The petitioner, neither from the Calcutta High Court nor from any other court, sought the relief of restraining the CBSE from destroying the answer sheets,’ the court said. ‘The question which arises is, whether the authorities under the RTI Act, on the request of the petitioner for preservation of the answer sheets were required to or competent to pass any orders for such preservation,’ the court observed. Senior counsel for petitioner has not been able to show any provision in the act in this regard, Justice Endlaw said.
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