Setting aside the Delhi High Court’s five-year-old order asking Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) to disclose the Prelims marks, the Supreme Court ruled that civil services examination marks cannot be revealed under the Right to Information Act (RTI). A bench of AK Goel and UU Lalit agreed to UPSC that the revelation of marks would compromise on the integrity of the UPSC civil services (Prelims) examination except for having a negative impact on the evaluation process.
“Weighing the need for transparency and accountability on the one hand and requirement of optimum use of fiscal resources and confidentiality of sensitive information on the other, we are of the view that information sought with regard to marks in Civil Services Exam cannot be directed to be furnished mechanically,” the bench said.
Underlining the UPSC’s difficulties in this regard such as disclosure could lead to “unnecessary resentment and revelation of the identity of evaluators and thereby putting the integrity of the examination in danger, the bench said, “Situation of exams of other academic bodies may stand on different footing. Furnishing raw marks will cause problems as pleaded by the UPSC which will not be in public interest.”
The UPSC, in its challenge to the Delhi High Court, said that the assurance of anonymity is one of the reasons they have been abler to get best teachers and scholars for the evaluation work.
“Once disclosure of answer books starts and the inevitable challenges (including litigation) from disappointed candidates starts, it is only a matter of time before these examiners who would be called upon to explain their assessment/award, decline to accept further assignments from the Commission,” the bench said.
The bench, however, noted that if a case in which the public interest requires furnishing of information, the Court will certainly do so. “If rules or practice so require, certainly such rule or practice can be enforced. In the present case, direction has been issued without considering these parameters,” the bench maintained.