Courts Update APSC can't furnish photocopy of answer scripts to APSC...

APSC can’t furnish photocopy of answer scripts to APSC candidates: Gauhati HC

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Guwahati, Jun 19 (ILNS) The Gauhati High Court has dismissed a petition seeking quashing of notification issued by the Secretary, Assam Public Service Commission (APSC) to the extent that it declares that APSC cannot furnish photocopy of answer scripts to the candidates of Competitive (Main) Examination, 2016.

The petitioners have prayed for setting aside and quashing of notification dated December 27, 2018 issued by the Secretary APSC and for a direction to the APSC to furnish photocopy of answer scripts to the petitioner and for a further direction to the APSC to disclose to the Petitioner the marks obtained by candidates who were recommended for appointment by the APSC in its website as per notification dated December 27, 2018.

The Counsel for the petitioners have submitted that the Petitioners are meritorious and are well placed in the society holding a Master Degree. It is submitted that vide notification dated August 2, 2010, the Assam Public Service Commission (Procedure and Conduct of Business) Rules, 2010 was notified by the APSC which was holding the field as on the date when the Petitioners had submitted their application for being furnished with a copy of their answer scripts.

It is further submitted that as per Clause 70 thereof, provides for preservation of answer scripts, which is not for nothing, but the underlying purpose would be to provide copy of answer scripts.

Relying on the case of Union of India Vs. Angesh Kumar, (2018) 4 SCC 530 it is submitted that the answer scripts of the Petitioners do not contain any sensitive information. The Counsel highlighted that the APSC does not do scaling of marks as is being done by UPSC and therefore, there was no impediment in providing copy of answer scripts. If the Court is of the view that providing of copy of answer scripts would expose the identity of the examiners, orders may be passed to enable the APSC to mask the portion containing signatures or marking by paper examiners. In this regard, reliance is placed on the case of Kerala Public Service Commission & Ors. Vs. State Information Commission & Ors.,B (2016) 3 SCC 417.

Per contra, the Senior Counsel for the APSC has heavily relied on the case of Angesh Kumar (I) (supra). However, the case of Angesh Kumar (I) (supra) was decided on 20.02.2018, which was followed by the order dated 06.09.2018 passed by the Supreme Court of India in the review petition, being Angesh Kumar (II), which was the basis of issuing the impugned APSC notification dated 27.12.2018 , contended the Counsel.

A Single Bench of Justice Kalyan Rai Surana noted that it is the admitted case of the Petitioners that the marks obtained by them in the APSC CCE, 2016 had been uploaded by the APSC in their website.

Moreover, as per the order sheet dated 18.03.2021, the Court had recorded that pursuant to the order dated 22.02.2021, passed by the High Court, the standing counsel for the APSC had produced the extract of marks obtained by the Petitioners in the viva voce test.

The Court further noted that the Assam Public Service Commission (Procedure and Conduct of Business) Rules, 2010 does not contain any Rules relating to providing of copy of answer script to the candidates.Generally the answer scripts is to be preserved till 6 (six) months, and if the result of any candidate is challenged before the Court, Rule 70(ii) provides for preserving the answer scripts till final disposal of the case(s). Therefore, from Rule 70 it cannot be culled out that the purpose of preserving answer scripts is to facilitate issuance of copy under RTI Act , the Court said.

The Bench Further observed that the scheme of RTI Act, Sections 3 and 6 of the RTI Act confer right to information, apart from statutory obligation to provide specified information under Section 4. However, Sections 8, 9 and 11 provide for exemption from giving of information as stipulated therein.

It was clarified by the Court that unlike UPSC, the APSC does not practice scaling of marks. According to the Counsel for the Petitioner in the case of Angesh Kumar (I) had made there is an exception to exams other than UPSC. The Court did not expect accept the said contention because in the case of Angesh Kumar (I) (supra) reference is made to exams conducted by other academic bodies and there is nothing on record to show that APSC is an academic body.

“Under the circumstances, as the impugned notification dated 27.12.2018 is based on the ratio laid down in the case of Angesh Kumar (I) (supra) and Angesh Kumar (II) (supra), the cases cited by the learned counsel for the petitioner is distinguishable on facts. Therefore, following the case of Angesh Kumar (I) (supra), where direction by High Court for issuance of answer script was interfered with, the present writ petition fails and are dismissed. No interference is called for in respect of the APSC notification no. 230PSC/GRC-1/ 2017-18 dated 27.12.2018”, the order reads.

The Court ordered , that the APSC and its authorities, officials and staff shall not destroy the answer scripts of the petitioners in these three writ petition for a period of 6 (six) weeks from the date of this order.

It is Pertinent to note that the Petitioners applied for APSC Combined Competitive Examination (Prelims), 2016 and results were declared . The Petitioners appeared in APSC Combined Competitive Examination (Mains), 2016 and the Petitioners was declared successful . The Petitioners was called for viva-voce examination . The final results were declared and the Petitioners roll number did not figure as successful candidate. Accordingly, the Petitioners sought information by RTI application. ILNS/SHV/RJ

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