IITs told to reveal candidate details - Institutes lose battle before info panel

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By CHARU SUDAN KASTURI in Delhi
  • Published 13.11.09
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New Delhi, Nov. 12: The Central Information Commission has ordered the IITs to disclose most details of candidates who sat the 2009 entrance examination, rejecting the institutes’ argument that revealing candidates’ names would be a breach of their privacy.

India’s apex watchdog for the Right to Information Act has ordered the IITs to reveal the names, addresses, pin codes and marks of all students who appeared in the Joint Entrance Examination this year.

In its November 6 order, the commission asked IIT Guwahati, the chief organiser among the IITs of the 2009 examination, to disclose by November 25 the information sought by the appellant.

The order follows efforts by the IIT to withhold information on candidates who appeared in the 2009 JEE despite earlier orders mandating the release of similar data on IIT candidates over the past three years.

The order is significant because a similar disclosure in 2006 revealed discrepancies between cutoff marks used by the IITs that year and the cutoffs arrived at by using the formula the institutes claimed to have used.

At least 994 students, who cleared the cutoffs arrived at by using the formula the IITs claimed to have used, were denied admission because the institutes used different cutoffs.

The IITs have till now been unable to explain how they arrived at the cutoffs — by using the formula they claim to have used.

The appellant in the 2009 case is the parent of a student who appeared in the controversial 2006 examination and is trying to use the RTI Act to ensure that the IITs do not repeat their errors.

The IITs, in the 2009 case, argued that the release of candidate details sought by the appellant could compromise the privacy of these candidates.

The appellant had sought the registration numbers, names, gender, parents’ names, pin codes and marks in physics, chemistry and mathematics of all students who appeared in the 2009 examination.

The appellant has expressed concern that the IITs may be admitting the children of institute administrators or certain faculty members despite poor marks, and has argued that details he has sought would help clarify his doubts.

The commission, in its order, has argued that while providing email addresses and mobile phone numbers of candidates would constitute a violation of privacy, merely disclosing their names and addresses would not.