The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Exam script ‘cover-up’

New Delhi, Aug. 6: A crucial amendment to the Right to Information Act could deny students an opportunity to ensure that their answer scripts in public examinations have been evaluated properly.

The draft of the amendments, cleared by the cabinet and set to be tabled in Parliament, seeks to exclude from scrutiny “information pertaining to a process of any examination conducted by any public authority, or assessment or evaluation made by it”.

In a highly competitive atmosphere, where a decimal difference in percentage often makes the difference between success and “failure”, the law as it exists now gives students a “means of self-defence”.

Ask Subhojit Ghosh. A regular topper at Delhi Public School, R.K. Puram, Subhojit was stumped when he found that he had been awarded only 61 per cent in the math paper in the senior secondary examinations last year.

But the Right to Information Act, which kicked in last year after the Freedom of Information Act was modified, came to his rescue.

Under the information law, he sought a copy of his answer script after the re-evaluation failed to convince him. Subhojit’s doubts were confirmed and a damning mix-up came to light: someone else’s paper had been evaluated as his.

Later, his marks were revised — to 96 per cent.

“My entire life would have changed, had I not managed to see the answer script myself,” Subhojit, now a student of St. Stephen’s College, said.

If the proposed amendment is passed, such an option will no longer be available.

The cabinet, as explained in a press note, believes that teachers evaluating answer scripts would come under severe pressure if students are allowed to continue to take a peek at their corrected papers.

Lawyers point out that the amendment to Section 8 — which covers information not to be disclosed — will affect examinations ranging from a government school test to an IIT or IAS entrance exam.

According to an information officer who did not want his name disclosed, the act has been used widely by students in the past year.

“Particularly in Delhi and Pondicherry, but elsewhere too, several hundreds of students have managed to see their answer scripts following an appeal to the information commission,” he said.

In many cases, he added, the students eventually managed to get more marks. “One girl who had been failed in a paper actually got 80 per cent.”

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