Marks not to be disclosed under RTI in the grading system
A Bench of Acting Chief Justice AK Sikri and Justice RS Endlaw of the Delhi High Court has ruled that the students appearing under the CBSE, or their parents, do not have the right to know the marks secured by them in each subject through an application filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. The grading system was introduced two years back by CBSE.
While setting aside the order of a single judge of Delhi High Court and the Central Information Commission (CIC), which directed CBSE to the disclose the marks scored by a student in each subject in her Class 10 exams, the HC said “….. 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. 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% and a student having 89%, could be owing to subjectivity in marking and 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. It was thus decided to place both in grade A2 with grade point 9 as aforesaid. Though ideally, the examiner in such cases ought to give both of them grade A2 only, without giving them 81% and 89% as aforesaid but it appears that since the teachers and examiners also, owing to the long past practice were used to marking instead grading students, for their guidance, the range was prescribed as aforesaid. Thus it appears that though the marks are available but in law and fact they ought not to have been available. The marks appear to be available with the appellant only owing to the examiners and teachers being not immediately accustomed to grading and for their convenience….”
The HC held that “…..No weightage can also be given to the submission of the respondent that the marks even if disclosed would not be used for any other purpose. Such an offer cannot be enforced by the Court and the Court cannot on the basis thereof allow disclosure of something which was not intended to exist in the first place. The possibility of the respondent and his ward, in securing admission and for other purposes using the said information to secure an advantage over others cannot be ruled out…..” Further the HC held that “……while interpreting a statutory provision, we cannot shut our eyes to hard realities, to what was sought to be achieved thereby and cannot in a pedantic manner allow the literal interpretation to run amock and create a situation not intended by the statute. ….. even though there is no express order of any court of law forbidding publication of marks [as is the want of Section 8(1)(b)] but the effect of bringing the regime of grades in place of marks and of dismissal of challenge thereto, is to forbid publication/disclosure of marks….”
[Central Board of Secondary Education Versus Sh. Anil Kumar Kathpal in LPA No.1090/2011]