New Delhi, March 17 (IANS) “Show some magnanimity” was the message of the Delhi High Court to the Delhi University, which is fighting a legal battle for — what, in earnest, can be counted as its cash cow — reserving its right to charge a fee to provide for re-evaluation and rechecking of answer sheets, when students ask for it.
The court observed this while hearing the case between the varsity and one of its student on March 12. It was responding to the university’s contention that it cannot allow the inspection of answer sheets under the RTI Act as it already has its own mechanism to do so and for which it charges a fee.
“Show some magnanimity. You say you can give the certified copy of the entire file, but you can’t allow the file to be inspected. This is absurd.
“Suppose the fee for providing the certified copy of answer script is Rs 2,000 and fee for inspection of the same is Rs 10 as per the RTI Act, then what would he prefer. He will definitely go for inspection. You cannot impose your choice over his discretion,” the court observed.
The matter, pending before the court since last September, has now been posted to July.
A matter of country-wide import, it was first heard by the high court in September 2018, when the law student approached it.
The student chose the RTI route to seek inspection of his answer copies instead of paying a hefty sum of Rs 1,000 and Rs 750, charged, respectively, for re-evaluation and rechecking. When his RTI was dismissed by the university, he approached the Central Information Commission (CIC), which directed the varsity to allow the inspection.
Though, in September, the court had directed the university to allow the student to inspect his answer sheet as an interim measure under section 2(J) of the RTI Act, the matter not being a public interest litigation (PIL), technically doesn’t bind the university to grant all students the right to inspect their copies through RTI.
However, if the court dismisses the writ petition filed by the university, the decision is bound to have a national implication, with other universities following the suit and serving to relieve a vast number of students who find the fee burdensome and discouraging.
The reason why the university is engaged in a rigorous battle in the court is that it doesn’t want to let go of one of its means of minting money, the extent of which is not obvious.
As IANS reported last year, the Delhi University earned over Rs 3 crore in fees paid by students for either revaluation or rechecking answer sheets and for providing photocopies of answer sheets to them between 2015-16 and 2017-18. This is for merely two years.
Same information was sought by the National Student Union of India this year, which, upon getting it, found it a “draconian policy” and threatened an agitation if the university doesn’t stop charging fees for copies.