The Haryana State Information Commission has directed the state's school board to make available on its website the "answer key" to questions for exams taken by it in future.
Disposing of an RTI appeal of a Bahadurgarh resident seeking the answer key to questions of the Haryana Teacher Eligibility Test in which he appeared in November 2011, State Information Commissioner Urvashi Gulati said provision of the answer key would avoid unnecessary applications for information under the RTI Act.
"The aim of the Act is to bring transparency and accountability. It is, therefore, directed that the board should ensure availability of 'answer key' to questions on its website in future," Gulati said in her order.
The Haryana Board of School Education had denied information to petitioner Anil Kumar and had not provided the answer key to questions for the Teacher Eligibility exam on the plea that documents such as OMR sheet of answer book, answer key and question paper are intellectual property/trade secret of Board and fall within the ambit of Section 8 of the RTI Act, 2005.
The Commission held that Section 8(1)(d) exempts the State Public Information officer of the Haryana Board of School Education from furnishing information including intellectual property, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the competent authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants disclosure of such information.
The Commission held that the burden of establishing that the information sought was exempted from disclosure under Section 8 (1)(d) of the RTI Act shall lie with the SPIO and held that "to claim this exemption, the SPIO must establish that the information sought would harm the competitive position of a third party.
"The Board is under no obligation to disclose any such material to a third party unless it is satisfied that larger public interest warrants disclosure of information as it related to third party," the order states.