GANDHINAGAR: For all you know, Bhavnagar University (BU) may soon want a patent on the methods of cheating used by its students in exams! As preposterous as it may sound,BU recently refused to give information sought under the Right to Information Act on copying methods used in exams, stating that it was a "trade secret and intellectual property."
Kishore Kantaria used the RTI Act because he wanted to find out how many copying cases occurred in the arts and commerce faculties of BU's examination department during exams held between March and April last year.
He also wanted to know what methods of cheating were used, whether students talked to each other, wrote on their clothes, or smuggled books into the exam centre.
However, BU's public information officer (PIO) denied the information citing Section 8 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, which states that information can be denied if it relates to "commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, the disclosure of which could harm the competitive position of a third party."
In other words,BU was afraid of harming the competitive position of those caught cheating. When Kantaria complained to the Gujarat Information Commission (GIC), BU's advocate argued that although BU had given other information pertaining to the query, it had not given details of modes of cheating as it was confidential.
BU officials called Kantaria's appeal an abuse of the process of law aimed at misusing RTI.
While asking BU to provide the information, GIC noted, "PIO has not specified whether the information concerns commercial confidence or intellectual property or how the information would harm the competitive position of a third party and who is the third party."
Gujarat chief information commissioner R N Das stated that the information demanded will only help BU in curbing the menace of cheating by chalking out an effective action plan against erring students. He added that instead of worrying about the process of law, BU should invite suggestions from the public to curb malpractice in exams.