High court verdict on disclosure of UPSC marking process on April 17
Apr 4, 2007 - 9:35:31 PM
New Delhi, April 4 - The Delhi High Court Wednesday reserved its order on a petition challenging the Central Information Commission order to Union Public Service Commission to reveal its marking system and evaluation process of answer scripts for civil services examination conducted by it.
After hearing arguments from the two contending parties, UPSC and civil service aspirants, Justice B.D. Ahmed fixed April 17 to pronounce his verdict on the issue.
Appearing for a group of students, advocate Aman Lekhi asserted that that the UPSC's examination system as well its evaluation process of answer scripts are replete with lacunae and anomalies.
Lekhi sought to buttress his point by submitting to the court the civil services' preliminary examination question paper, which the UPSC does not allow the candidates to take out from the examination hall.
Citing a question from the paper on the period during which inscriptions were carved on Allahabad pillar, Lekhi said the question might have three answers, while for the UPSC there is only one correct answer.
Lekhi said, for example, giving names of three ruler - Ashoka, Samudragupta and Jehangir, the UPSC has asked to name one of the three rulers during whose rule the inscriptions were carved on Allahabad pillar.
The fact of the matter is that the inscriptions were made during the period of all the three rulers, said Lekhi dramatically, adding even a difference of one mark can make or mar a student's future in these examination.
Resisting disclosure of its marking and evaluation process, the UPSC counsel submitted that the commission was adopting a scaling system which could not be revealed to the students.
'Revealing the marks would infringe upon the intellectual property right of the commission. The coaching institutes might decipher short-cut methods to the advantage of its students,' the counsel contended.
He said many meritorious students might be at disadvantage if the marks, cut-off points and the scaling system were revealed by the UPSC.
The information on cut-off marks, individual scores, scaling criteria and model answers, which has been sought by about 2,500 civil service aspirants, are top secret and their disclosure would lead to violation of intellectual property right of the commission,' the counsel contended.
Senior counsel Prashant Bhushan appearing for a group of students contended that it was the fundamental right of the aspirants to know their individual scores and cut-off marks in the examination.
The UPSC had challenged the CIC's Nov 13, 2006 order to disclose within two weeks the marks of the candidates. The high court had stayed the execution of the CIC order Nov 27, 2006.
The CIC, headed by Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, had passed the order on separate applications filed by over 100 unsuccessful candidates seeking disclosure of the marks obtained by them in the preliminary examination, 2006.
The CIC had asked the UPSC to reveal the cut-off marks in optional papers of the short-listed candidates, who made it to the main examinations.
The commission also directed the UPSC to disclose its scaling system saying that 'it involves large public interest and provides level-playing field to all aspirants.'
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