In a significant ruling, the Delhi High Court has held that marks obtained by a student in CBSE board exam cannot be revealed under the transparency law as it would “defeat” the purpose of the new grading system.
The court set aside the verdict of a single judge bench and the Central Information Commission, which had asked the Central Board of Secondary Education to reveal marks obtained by a girl in her Class X board examination in 2010.
“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.
“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...,” a bench of Acting Chief Justice A.K. Sikri and Justice Rajiv Sahai Endlaw said.
Writing the judgement, Endlaw said the details of marks, obtained by the student in 10th board, cannot be termed as an “information” under the Right to Information Act as its disclosure would defeat the policy of awarding grades instead of marks.
Allowing the plea of CBSE, it said “no weightage can also be given to the plea of respondent (girl’s father) that the marks even if disclosed would not be used for any other purpose.
“The possibility of 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.”
The apex transparency panel had allowed the plea of the student saying “since, the marks were available with the appellant (CBSE) and since none of the exemptions under the RTI Act were attracted to support the non disclosure thereof, the appellant was bound to and directed to provide the information sought.”
Aggrieved by the order, CBSE appealed to the single judge bench of the High Court which upheld the order of the CIC.
The CBSE then filed an appeal against the order before a division bench which allowed its plea that disclosure of the marks would dilute and defeat the grading system.
“We have already held above that disclosure of marks, which though exists with the appellant would amount to allowing play to the policy earlier prevalent of marking the examinees. Merely because the appellant/its examiners for the purpose of grading, first mark the students would not compel this court to put at naught or to allow full play to the new policy of grades,” it said.
Anil Kumar Kathpal, the father of the girl, had sought the details of the marks saying “this information will help me to identify her weak areas in studies and take timely action, so that she can pursue her career after Class XII.”