Historic Ruling in Nepalese Court
May 19, Kathmandu: In what experts are hailing as the first of its kind, the Nepalese Supreme Court affirmed the decision of the National Information Commission (NIC) allowing Tribuhuwan University’s Bachelor of Business students access to contested exam answer sheets. “The decision will set a strong legal precedent in protecting public’s right to information,” said Nepalese Information Commissioner Sabita Bhandari Baral.
With the legal and technical assistance of the Citizens’ Campaign for Right to Information (CCRI), four students filed a case with the NIC on July 23, 2009 claiming the school violated their right to information by refusing them to view their exam sheets. September 14, 2009 the NIC issued an order demanding the university to allow students to view their grades and was not “troublesome” as the University claimed. The verdict was based on the provisions of Article 27 of the Interim Constitution 2007 and Right to Information Act 2007.
Unsatisfied with the ruling, Tribuhuwan University filed a petition to the Supreme Court which was denied. The Division Bench of Justices Kalaram K.C. and Abadhesh Kumar Yadav agreed with NIC that it was the right of students to view their exams answers after publication of the results. Conditions of the Supreme Court’s final decision are:
-Tribhuwan University is responsible for showing answer sheets only to concerned students, not to second or third parties,
-School officials must keep the name of the examiner confidential,
-The school can impose a designated fee for providing the answer sheets,
-The school can introduce a timeframe and process for providing answer sheets, and
-“Students are strictly prohibited from turning the right to see their answer sheets into a scandal.”
While upholding the right to view their grades ruling is heartening, the conditions of the decision appear to inhibit complete transparency. Tribhuwan University has been allowed legal leeway to stall and hamper full access to exam sheets by being allowed to charge a fee and impose a timeframe that may discourage many students. The ambiguous condition that students are forbidden from turning this right “into a scandal” lays the foundation for future lawsuits against “meddlesome” students exercising their legal right. Nepalese must maintain vigilance and a watchful eye over how this ruling impacts future requests to ensure all Nepalese have the resources and means to exercise their right to information, participation, and justice.
Kharel, Pranab, Ghimire, Binod (2011, May 19). Let students see their
answer sheets: Apex court directs TU. The Kathmandu Post.
Gautam, Bimal (2011, May 19). SC says students can see exam answer sheets. Republica. http://www.myrepublica.com/portal /index.php?action=newsdetails&newsid=31420