March 20, 2021 4:38:58 am
The Central Information Commission (CIC) has asked the Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) to explore the possibility of placing information about toppers of class XII examinations in the public domain.
It has said that the larger public interest of the students and parents’ community warrants disclosure of at least the highest marks scored and the corresponding name of the school for each academic year.
Information Commissioner Saroj Punhani issued this order on Thursday on an appeal filed by The Indian Express. The CBSE had denied information on names of class XII toppers from 1998-2018, quoting its bylaws which say that it “does not prescribe overall division/distinction/aggregate rank etc” of students. CBSE’s CPIO Sajjan Kumar reiterated this stand before the CIC as well during the hearing.
In its appeal filed before the CIC on June 5, 2019, The Indian Express has said that when the Education Minister (earlier HRD Minister) congratulates toppers and everything is well publicised, the CBSE must provide the information under the RTI Act. Tweets of ministers were attached with the appeal.
Punhani marked a copy of her order to the CBSE chairperson with the “advice to perhaps explore the possibility of placing such information in the public domain sans the personal details of the concerned students.”
The order states that “in the considered opinion of this bench, larger public interest of the students and parents community warrants disclosure of at least the highest marks scored and the corresponding name of the school for each academic year in the public domain.”
During the appeal, it was told to the CIC that by denying information which is of great public interest, the CBSE has wasted time of the CIC, of the appellant and of the CBSE itself.
CBSE was asked to provide the Name, address, school name of the student who secured highest marks in class 12 in the examinations in 1998 to 2018. When the first appeal was filed before the CBSE, it further said that it cannot provide the information because it has it in “commercial confidence” of third parties and it relates to “fiduciary relationship.”
The Board also denied the appeal when it was reminded that such information can be disclosed under the RTI Act in the “public interest”.
During hearing at the CIC, the CBSE official said that it provides such details only to government agencies on request and not under the RTI Act.
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