Students and parents feel that a fee of Rs 600 for each paper will make the process inaccessible to them.

Telangana Board not to permit students to get copies of answer sheets through RTIImage For Representation
news Education Saturday, April 27, 2019 - 14:58

At a time when over 3 lakh students in Telangana have been impacted by the discrepancies in their intermediate examination results, the Telangana State Board of Intermediate Education (TSBIE) has decided not to allow the students to obtain copies of their answer sheets through the Right to Information Act of 2005.

The Board’s move, however, contradicts a 2009 Supreme Court judgement and a Central Information Commission (CIC) order that brought examination answer sheets under the purview of the RTI Act.

The TSBIE on Thursday had said that it will not be possible for students to get copies of their answer sheets through an application under the RTI, reported Deccan Chronicle. The Board is of the view that they already have a service for the students through which they can get the answer sheets re-evaluated or re-counted by paying Rs 600 per answer sheet. If the answer sheets are sought through an RTI, it would cost the student a court fee stamp of Rs 10 and a fee of Rs 2 per page.

According to the TSBIE website, as many as 35,447 applications have been received for re-verification of exam results and 7,180 applications have been received for re-counting so far.

P Madhusudan Reddy, the President of Government Junior College Lecturers Association, is of the view that it's better for students to apply for re-evaluation or re-counting by paying Rs 600 than go through an RTI.

"When TSBIE is prepared to give answer sheet copies and after a re-verification process, why go through an RTI?" he asks.

The TSBIE, as part of their re-verification process, appoints an answer sheet verifying committee that will verify each answer sheet three times, the third count being the final one. "Any changes along with photostat copy will be provided to the student. When the answer sheet is obtained under the RTI Act, and some mistake in correction is there, the student has to again come to the Board anyway and ask them to run it through the committee. Also, the RTI reply could take 30 days whereas the last date for submitting for re-verification is April 27. The present system is better than the RTI route,“  he adds.

P Lakshmiah, a resident of Rangapuram village of Suryapet district and the father of an intermediate student who couldn't clear her Maths exam, says that Rs 600 per paper is unaffordable for many families who want to get answer sheets re-evaluated when the student has scored low marks.“For one subject Rs 600 is too much, I'm an agricultural labourer and can't afford to pay for every subject. We have only applied for re-evaluation for just the Maths paper as that's the only subject my daughter has not passed,” says Lakshmiah. The father has not applied for re-verification for other subjects where his daughter could have scored higher as he is unable to afford the costs.

TSBIE uses the Rs 600 as remuneration for the committee re-evaluating and re-counting the examination answer sheets. "It's a labour intensive process and remuneration has to be given to the committee. In other states, they don't have such a system, which is why the RTI comes into the picture. In the current situation, the state government has waived off the Rs 600 fee for students who have failed the exams,“ Madhusudan adds.

Soon after the intermediate exam results of 9 lakh students were announced in Telangana on April 17, many discrepancies were noticed in the results. Over 3 lakh students were found to have failed the exams due to the discrepancies found in the results. The discrepancies ranged from marking students as ‘absent’ or ‘fail,’ even though they had cleared the exams, to the printing of wrong subject name on the student’s mark sheet.

This forced the Board to set up a three-member team to file a report on what went wrong with the results. The details of the report are yet to be revealed.

Close to 20 students across the state have killed themselves allegedly because they were upset with the results. The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has also issued a notice to the Telangana government, seeking a detailed report on the goof-up by the Board.

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