'Let students see their answer sheets'


Himalayan News Service

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In a first landmark judicial decision over the issue of right to information in the country, Supreme Court (SC) on Wednesday issued an order in the name of Tribhuvan University (TU) to allow its students to see their answer sheets after the publication of the results, if they are not satisfied with their marks.

The division bench of Justice Balaram KC and Abadhesh Kumar Yadav decided to scrap the writ petition filed by TU against the order of National Information Commission (NIC) that directed TU to let students see their answer papers. The verdict was made based on the provision of Article 27 of Interim Constitution 2007 and Right to Information Act 2007. With the decision, any student who is not satisfied with their examination marks can have a look the copy of their answer sheet by paying certain amount. This, experts say is the first of its kind in the country. However, SC has put forth some conditions. For instance, the name of the examiner should be kept secret inorder to protect their safety. Likewise, student would be provided with a photocopy of the answer sheet that would be attested rather than the original copy itself.

Bijay Aryal a Bachelor level student of Shanker Dev Campus on June 30, 2009 filed the application at TU demanding to see his answer sheet of Business Statistics and English. But TU reportedly denied acting as per his demand saying it was a secret issue. After the denial, Aryal on July 23 in the same year filed a case in NIC claiming TU violated his right to information and its decision was against the sprit of Article 27 of the Interim Constitution 2007 and Clause 10 of Right to Information Act 2007.

Following the application NIC on Sept. 14, 2009 NIC issued an order in the name of TU to allow every student who wants to see their answer sheets. It stated that there was no reason to hide the papers if the process of examining was accurate. Showing papers would help maintain transparency.

However, disagreeing with the decision from NIC, Bhim Raj Adhikaree on the behalf of TU on Nov. 11 2009 filed a writ petition demanding the interim order in NIC verdict and scrap the decision. However, the apex court bench in the first hearing on Nov. 23 did not deem necessary to issue an interim order.

Many see the decision as a milestone in the history of implementation of Right to Information in the country. "The decision will set strong legal precedent in protecting  public's right to information," said Information Commissioners Sabita Bhandri Baral.

(Source: The Kathmandu Post)