Central Information Commissioner Saroj Punhani while deciding an RTI case protects the interest of candidates with regards to the evaluation process of answer scripts, directed IGNOU to explore and promote transparency in their norms regarding the evaluation process through suo moto disclosure in terms of RTI Act .
The following information was sought by the appellant:
The Appellant filed an online RTI application dated 17.10.2019 seeking the following information;
1. “The exact detailed procedure of evaluation and re-evaluation of answer script of a student in IGNOU.
2. Time-period mentioned in University Statutes regarding declaration of Re-evaluation result.”
The CPIO replied to the appellant on 22.10.2019 stating as follows:-
“ This is to inform you that a copy of rule of regulation for re-evaluation of answer script is annexed.”,
During the course of arguments, The Appellant stated that he is aggrieved by the fact that notification provided by the PIO was incomplete to the extent that the said notification only spells about the procedure for filing a form regarding re-evaluation of answer scripts. He further stated that the information regarding evaluation of answer scripts against point no 1 of RTI Application and also the time period as sought for at point no 2 of RTI Application was not provided to him.
Per contra, the PIO, IGNOU submitted that a copy of rules/regulations regarding re-evaluation has already been provided to the Appellant. He further explained that the rules/regulations of IGNOU with regard to the evaluation of answer scripts of students is not in the public domain, however as per the extant practice, answer scripts for evaluation are forwarded to the board’s approved evaluators who evaluate the same and while forwarding the copies of answer scripts, on the covering letter a timeline is indicated and intimated to the evaluators.
PIO apprised the Commission that as per extant practice results of evaluated answer scripts are usually declared within 45 days of exams, however, results of re-valuation are declared within 30 days but the rules & regulation of revaluation of IGNOU with regards to the time period of revaluation/evaluation are silent on this aspect.
Upon a query from the Commission, he affirmed that a copy of rules/regulations with respect to the re-evaluation of answer scripts is already in the public domain and the same can be accessed from the IGNOU’s website.
The CIC upon hearing and adjudication of this case observed that a pertinent issue emanating from the instant case on the policy matters of IGNOU regarding the evaluation of answer scripts. It will be in the best interest of IGNOU to explore the viability of introducing a FAQs Section on their website wherein the most commonly sought for clarifications on similar nature of queries can be identified and relevant information in that regard can be placed in the public domain in keeping with the letter and spirit of suo motu disclosures prescribed under Section 4 of the RTI Act. This will also relieve the public authority from the burden of RTI Applications which are filed for merely seeking clarifications and not any specific record.
In pursuance of the aforesaid advisory, the PIO is directed to place a copy of this order before their competent authority for taking appropriate action.