The High Court of Karnataka has declared that a candidate who has appeared for examination conducted by a public service commission can seek copies of his/her own evaluated answer scripts along with the marks allotted to each question under the Right to Information (RTI) Act. However, while issuing copies of the answer scripts and the information sought, certain safeguards are to be followed namely identity of the examiner should not to be revealed and has to be masked, the court said while making it clear that a candidate cannot seek for copies of evaluated answer scripts of any other candidates.
Justice Suraj Govindaraj passed the order while disposing of a petition filed by the Karnataka Public Service Commission (KPSC) which had questioned the order the Karnataka Information Commission (KIC) to provide copies of answer scripts to a candidate, Vinay Kumar Ramaiah, who had appeared for the Gazetted Probationers mains exam held in 2017.
“Freedom of information being a fundamental right as also human right, any person would be entitled to apply for and receive information especially pertaining to him which is held by any public authority. The reasons for requesting such information may be myriad. Whatever they may be when a particular information sought for is relating to the person applying for such information, the authorities concerned cannot refuse the furnishing the same,” the court observed. Meanwhile, the court found fault with the KIC’s order of appointing the Controller of Examination of the KPSC as a Public Information Officer while holding that the RTI Act does not empower to dismiss a Public Information Officer (PIO) appointed by a public authority and appoint a new PIO. The Information Commissions can only direct a public authority to appoint a PIO if the public authority had failed to appoint one, the court clarified.
The court said “Looking at from any angle it was impermissible for the second respondent (KIC) to have removed the existing PIO and/or appoint another PIO in place of such removed person.” Noticing that there is no qualification fixed for the post of the PIO and they can be appointed as per the discretion of the public authorities, the court observed that, “This aspect may be taken into consideration by the legislature in its wisdom to formulate the requirements of qualification, if any, for the appointment of an officer as a PIO as the officer is required to consider judgments of various courts while accepting or rejecting applications for information.”