Now CA students get Answer Sheet copies at Rs. 2 per page under RTI : Supreme Court Orders!

Hello FCA’s! (Future Chartered Accounted)

RTI Act is the most revolutionary act for setting out the practical regime of Right to Information, the 3 Key building pillars behind the act are Responsibility, Transparency and Accountability, which empowered Indian Citizens to secure access to information directly from the Government/Public Authorities.

In this article, I have penned down various Hon’ble Supreme Court judgements, provisions of the RTI Act, 2005 and provisions of the respective professional bodies for providing certified copies of answer books and also covers exclusively on the RTI process flow, application format, payment of fees etc., for CA students and members to obtain certified copies from the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) at a nominal cost.

ICAI procedure to obtain Certified Copies

As you are aware of the process to obtain certified copies as per the ICAI procedure, where a student has to apply online for seeking Inspection/Certified copies of answer books within 30 days from the date of declaration of the result of the relevant examination along with the a Fee of Rs. 500/- per paper and certified copies of your answer books will be provided within 30 days from the date of receipt of your application.

You can refer to the below link to the announcement made by ICAI dated 24th January 2019 to know more about revised Procedure for providing inspection/certified copies of evaluated answer-books to the concerned examinees as per ICAI procedure.

The above ICAI procedure is an expensive one and a student has to incur Rs. 500/- per paper. To enable easy access to the information, the Right to Information Act, 2005 provides access to certified copies of answer sheets at a nominal cost of Rs. 2/- per page and inspection at free of cost.

A candidate is free to apply for certified copies under the RTI Act, 2005 or as per the procedure laid down by the Institute. The reply to the application under RTI Act MUST be provided within 30 days at any cost, failing which penalty of Rs. 250/- per day subject to a maximum of Rs. 25,000/- will be levied till the date of such information is furnished and disciplinary actions will be initiated as per service rules on CPIO.

Landmark judgements by Supreme court of India w.r.t Certified copies:

  1. Certified copies can be sought under RTI Act:

In the year 2011, the Supreme Court had passed a landmark judgement in the case of CBSE & Anr. Vs. Aditya Bandopadhyay & Or’s. (Civil Appeal No. 6454/2011) saying that the answer sheets of students would be considered as information under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

This landmark ruling is applicable to all the authorities conducting exams-Universities, Boards, Professional Bodies, UPSC, SSC, etc.,

  • Fee for providing certified copies under the RTI has to be charged as per RTI rules but not as per the Institute rules:

In the year 2019, the Supreme Court had passed another landmark judgement in the case of Institute of Companies Secretaries of India Versus Paras Jain (Civil Appeal No.  5665/2014), the Court quashed the fee guidelines of the ICSI for an application under the RTI act and directed the institute to provide certified copies of answer sheets at a cost of Rs. 2/- per page.

ICAI reply to Certified Copies under the RTI Act:

In a reply to the RTI application filed by me on 1st of May 2019, ICAI was informed that Inspection or Certified copies of answers books can be sought under the Right to Information Act, 2005 or as per the ICAI procedure and there is no restriction.

Lower fee and extended time limit for application under RTI

As per the announcement No.13-CA(Exams)/WdngPlcy/2012 dated November 16, 2012 answer books of the examination conducted by ICAI are retained for a period of four months (120) days from the date of declaration of result of the relevant examination and in regulation 39(4), Institute has specifically mentioned that a student can seek verification, inspection and/or certified copy of answer books under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

So, a candidate can make an application for Inspection or Certified copies within 120 days under the RTI Act, 2005 whereas, as per ICAI procedure application can be made only within 30 days and there is no clause for application with the late fee as per ICAI procedure.

As per ICAI procedure, a candidate has got to pay Rs. 500/- per paper for Inspection/ Certified copies. For example, if a CA Final student desires to apply for certified copies of all the 8 subjects, he has to incur Rs. 4,000/- (Rs.500 per subject × 8 subjects) which is more than the Examination fee i.e., Rs. 3,300/-

Whereas under the RTI Act, 2005 fee shall be charged as follows:

  1. Application fee:

While making RTI applications, the payment of RTI Fees of Rs. 10/- needs to be made and the same is waived off for applicants falling below the poverty line by producing the proof of BPL Category. 

  • Additional Fee for Inspection/Certified Copies:

Inspection of Records No fee for the first hour;
– a fee of ₹.5.00 for each subsequent hour or a fraction thereof.
For each page (in A-4 or A-3 size paper) 2.00 per page of photocopy

Before providing certified copies/inspection of evaluated answer books to the examinees, verification of answer books, within the scope of Regulation 39(4), will be carried out by the ICAI.

Verification under Regulation 39(4) covers the following aspects:

  1. Whether any question or part thereof has remained unvalued
  2. Whether there is any totalling error in any question or total marks on the cover page
  3. Whether there is any discrepancy between the stepwise marks, total marks for each question indicated on the cover page

However, it may be noted that re-evaluation of answers is not permissible under Regulation 39(4)of the CA Regulations 1988

After receiving certified copies, if there any discrepancies, you can report the same to ICAI through physical application via speed post in below format

Procedure to obtain Certified copies or Inspection of answer books under the RTI:

A candidate can make an online application at his doorsteps without visiting any office, though user registration is not mandatory to file RTI application, I suggest you create an account at RTI online site, so that you can have a list of applications in user account and details like name, email, the address will be auto-filled while making RTI application.

  1. For submitting RTI application click on submit request option.

On clicking on submitting request option “GUIDELINES FOR USE OF RTI ONLINE PORTAL” screen will be displayed.

This screen contains various guidelines for using RTI online portal. Citizen has to click on the checkbox “I have read and understood the above guidelines.” and then click on submit button.

Then Online RTI Request Form screen will be displayed. This form can be used to file an online RTI.

  • In search Public Authority filed enter key word as Chartered and select Institute of Chartered Accountant of India from the list and click on Ok.
  • Name, address, educational qualifications, communication details will be auto filled and you can change the same, if required.

4. In the field “Is the Applicant below Poverty Line?”

  • Select the option Yes, if you belongs to Below Poverty Line BPL category and holds valid proof for the same like Food security Card, ration card etc., No application fee is required to be paid by such citizens as per RTI Rules,2012

  • Enter BPL card number, year of issue, issuing authority in the next field.

  • Select the option No, if you are not fall under the BPL category or does not hold valid proof for the same. Such candidates are required to be paid application fee of Rs.10/- online.

  1. Now in the filed “Text for RTI Request application”, provide details and request for certified copies

  • There is no prescribed form of the application under the Act, 2005 but, I have referred to application formats of various institutes and have prepared a draft for your reference.

  • You can download the draft application from below link, in the word document format, enter your details and copy paste the contents in the prescribed field.

  1. Now, upload your merged pdf copy of BPL Card (if applicable) and Hall Ticket by clicking supporting document and
    1. click on submit button (if BPL category)
    2. Make payment button (Others) to make the payment of Rs. 10/- towards application fee by using Internet banking, credit or debit card and click on submit button, after making the payment.

  • On submission of the application, a unique registration number would be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any references in future. The applicant will get an email and SMS alert on submission of the application.

Reply from ICAI and additional fee payment:

Within 30 days from the date of On-line application, you will be intimated over RTI online portal, about the amount of fees to be paid by the way of Demand Draft or Indian Postal Order drawn in favour of The Secretary, The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, payable at New Delhi and the same has to be sent to the CPIO by the speed post to below address by mentioning your name and RTI application number and the back side of the Demand Draft or Postal order:

Shri Dinesh Kumar Mishra
ICAI Bhawan, P. B. No. 7100,
Indraprastha New Delhi – 110 002

Electronic Demand draft – Convenient and easiest way:

Instead of approaching the bank and standing in a very long awaiting queue you’ll be able to apply for online demand draft if you have internet banking.

While applying for DD mention your RTI application number and mention DD delivery address as follows:

Shri Dinesh Kumar Mishra
ICAI Bhawan, P. B. No. 7100,
Indraprastha New Delhi – 110 002

DDs will be couriered by the bank to the mailing address and delivered within 3 days as ICAI Head office is in Delhi, a metro city. You will be updated with the courier carrier details and delivery details on time to time.

On receipt of DD, CPIO will provide the information/ certified copies in 3-6 working days through speed post to the address mentioned in the RTI application.

My experience with certified copies under RTI from the ICAI

Application filed by me in 2017 and 2018 was straight away rejected stating I have to apply for the same as per ICAI procedure, after some research and recent Supreme Court judgement again I have made an RTI application for Certified copies under the Right to Information Act, 2005 for Advanced Information Technology Test (AITT) and Practical Training Assessment Test (PT Test), within 30 days ICAI has provided a soft copy of the list of answers chosen by me during the examination, Marks secured and Result card as requested by me.

Conclusion

My sincere gratitude is reserved for Advocate Paras Jain sir, for his invaluable insights and suggestions. I really appreciate his willingness to help towards the students. And on 21st of July, 2019 a contempt notice was also sent by the Paras Jain sir, to the President, the Vice-President and the Secretary of the ICAI, requesting to follow the law laid down by the SC with regard to providing certified copies under the Right to Information Act, 2005.

And a sincere thanks to Mr. Soham V. joshi for his diligent proofreading and support at all the times.

We have varied landmark judgements, RTI Rules, ICAI Regulations as mentioned above to provide information under the RTI act, 2005 and you must get certified copies within 30 days.

Share your experience, if you have received certified copies of answer sheets under the RTI act from the ICAI.

Thank you!

Vinay Reddy

Jai Hind!

Right to Information is to make you right thinking Indians

Application format for seeking certified copies/inspection of evaluated answer books

The Additional Secretary (Exams)

The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India

ICAI Bhawan

Indraprastha Marg

New Delhi 110 002

Subject: Photocopy of Answer book of the Board Examinations under the RTI Act, 2005

Dear Sir,

I have appeared for CA Foundation/ IPCC/ Intermediate/ Final Examination conducted by the board with following particulars: –

  1. Name of the candidate:
  2. Date of Birth:
  3. Fathers Name:
  4. Contact no:
  5. E-mail address:
  6. Address for correspondence:

  • Student Registration No:

  • Examination: CPT/ Intermediate (IPC)/ Final/ ISAAT/ IRM/ ITL & WTO/ MAC/ CMC/ TMC

Month   :

Year      :

Roll No :

Paper No. – Subject

01 –

02 –

03 –

04 –

05 –

06 –

07 –

08 –

The self-attested photocopy of my admit card/ hall ticket is enclosed for verification of my identity. I also undertake that I am the same candidate who appeared in the aforesaid examination. I hereby declare and affirm that the details mentioned above relate to me only and are true to the best of my knowledge and belief. The information may kindly be provided at the given address.

Please let me know, applicable additional fees, if any as per rule 4 of the Right to Information (Regulation of Fee and Cost) Rules, 2005., has to be paid to provide above sought information.

Yours faithfully
(Name)
(Student Registration Number)

About Author…

Name: B VINAY REDDY  

Student Registration Number: SRO 0540836    Mr. B Vinay Reddy native from Hyderabad, is a B.Com  graduate from the IGNOU and a student of The Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI). He is a regular contributor on Taxation at various leading websites and a paper presenter at the CA Students Conferences hosted by BOS of ICAI. He believes that sharing provides you to learn and develop your knowledge and understanding about people and the subject.