School marks can't be revealed under RTI: Court
New Delhi: Delhi High Court has ruled that the marks secured by a student in the secondary school examination cannot be obtained even under the Right to Information (RTI) Act as this would defeat the objective of replacing marks with grades introduced in 2010.
The high court's ruling came while hearing a plea filed by the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) against the order of a single-judge bench which had upheld an order of the Central Information Commission (CIC) allowing disclosure of Class 10 marks.
"We are unable to agree; we feel that the CIC as well as the learned single judge, by directing disclosure of 'marks' in the regime of 'grades' have indeed undone what was sought to be done by replacing marks with grades and defeated the very objective thereof," a division bench of Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice RS Endlaw said in their judgement on Thursday.
The observation of the court came on the plea of Anil Kumar Kathpal, who wanted the marks of his daughter to be disclosed. He had sought to know the actual marks obtained by his daughter in the Class 10 examination held in 2010, saying that the information would help him to identify the weak areas in her studies.
The system of declaring subject-wise marks was replaced by the nine-point grading system introduced in the secondary school examination from 2010 to eliminate cut-throat competition.
The bench noted that even though marks are available with the CBSE, owing to the examiners and teachers being not immediately accustomed to grading, it cannot be disclosed as per the new policy.
"In our opinion, no information which is forbidden by law or information of a nature, if disclosed, would defeat the provisions of any law or disclosure whereof is opposed to public policy, cannot be regarded as 'lawful' and is to be ignored and no disclosure thereof can be made or directed to be made," the court said.
The court accepted the contentions of the CBSE that disclosure of the secondary school examination marks would dilute and defeat the grading system brought to reduce societal pressure and give a stress-free and joyful learning environment.
"The objective, in replacing the marks with grades, as can be gathered from the documents on record, was to grade students in a bandwidth rather than numerically; it was felt that difference, between a student having 81 percent and a student having 89 percent, could be owing to subjectivity in marking."
"There was no reason to otherwise consider a bearer of 81 percentile to be inferior to a bearer of 89 percentile and there was no reason to treat them differently," the bench said.
The court, allowing the CBSE appeal against the disclosure of marks, said: "We hold that disclosure of marks, which though exists with the appellant, would amount to allowing play to the policy earlier prevalent of marking the examinees."
"We are therefore unable to agree with the reasoning of the CIC and of the learned Single Judge and allow this appeal. We hold the information, disclosure of which was sought, to be no information and also exempt from disclosure," the court held.