SLC certificates online must not intrude privacy

2014-04-05

Nirjana Sharma

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Office of the Controller of Examinations (OCE) has put the information of about 2.7 million School Leaving Certificate (SLC) graduates from year 2000 onwards on its website. According to the officials, the database would help companies, agencies and academic institutions to verify certificates produced by students. 

However, public access to such documents violates a citizen´s right to privacy, experts contend. 

"We have posted the certificates of 2.7 million students who appeared in the SLC exams between 2000 and 2012," said the Exam Controller Khaga Raj Baral. 

One needs to enter symbol number, date of birth and the year of appearing in the exams and the student´s SLC mark-sheet would be displayed on the computer screen, said Baral. 

Earlier, the government and non-government companies sent official letters to the OCE in order to establish the veracity of academic documents as there is widespread belief that forged mark-sheets and certificates can be easily bought from forgers. 

The fear of forged documents is so entrenched that army institutions and government departments have expert committee to check such certificates, he added. "It will definitely ease our workload," said Baral.

Meanwhile, law practitioners contend that the OCE´s move is not consistent with right to privacy as anyone with symbol number, date of birth and year of passing can access an individual´s mark-sheet online.

According to Advocate Jagannath Lamichhane, the OCE should have mechanism to maintain certain level of security to prevent any misuse.

The government website must seek the details of persons or institutions who want to access the documents, he added. 

"Someone who has passed the exams in more than one attempt may not want to reveal the fact to others to avoid humiliation," Lamichhane said. 

Consumer rights activist Bimala Khanal backed Lamichhane´s view. She opines that there should be strong security measures such as asking for a registered email address and the reason for accessing the documents.

However, the OCE officials defended the move saying that just anybody can not access the document of another person because the website requires SLC symbol number, date of birth and the year of passing. 

An individual would not be able to print the copies of the documents as the soft version does not contain signature of the exam controller and official stamps, added Baral.

(Source: Republica National daily)