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“As the examining bodies have not been exempted, and as the examination processes of examining bodies have not been exempted, the examining bodies will have to gear themselves to comply with the provisions of the RTI Act,” a Bench of Justices R V Raveendran and A K Patnaik said. The apex court made the observations while directing the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) to reveal “standard criteria” relating to moderation, employed by it, for the purpose of making revisions to a candidate.

“The RTI Act does not bar or prohibit the disclosure of question papers, model answers (solutions to questions) and instructions if any given to the examiners and moderators after the examination and after the evaluation of answerscripts is completed, as at that stage they will not harm the competitive position of any third party,” the court said.

No burden

The bench rejected the contention of ICAI that it would burden the examination body with extra work. “Additional workload is not a defence. If there are practical insurmountable difficulties, it is open to the examining bodies to bring them to the notice of the government for consideration so that any changes to the Act can be deliberated upon.”

“Examining bodies like ICAI should change their old mindsets and tune them to the new regime of disclosure of maximum information.

Public authorities should realise that in an era of transparency, previous practices of unwarranted secrecy have no longer a place. Accountability and prevention of corruption is possible only through transparency. Attaining transparency no doubt would involve additional work with reference to maintaining records and furnishing information,” the court said. The bench also noted that the Parliament has enacted the RTI Act providing access to information, after great debate and deliberations by the Civil Society, and in its wisdom, has chosen to exempt only certain categories of information from disclosure and certain organizations from the applicability of the Act.



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