Hello FCA’s! (Future Chartered Accountants)
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 judgments, provisions of the RTI Act, 2005, provisions of the examination body for providing certified copies of answer books.
I also covered 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 of Rs. 2/- per page.
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 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.
The above ICAI procedure is an expensive one and a student 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/-
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.
RTI Act is in force since 2005, every year many students are applying for certified copies under the RTI Act, 2005 but, ICAI has been denying the answer-scripts to the candidates and compels candidates to seek their answer-scripts as per ICAI procedure which provides for the cost of Rs. 500/- per subject.
A similar case happened with ICSI and Mr. Paras Jain, a student of ICSI, fought tirelessly for 7 years and went to the Supreme Court.
On 14th of April, 2019 Supreme Court in the judgment ICSI Vs. Paras Jain, made clear that, a candidate is free to apply for certified copies under the RTI Act, 2005 or as per the procedure laid down by the Institute and fee as to be charged as per the RTI rules when an application is made under the RTI Act, 2005 but not as per the Institute guidelines.
ICAI reply to the application for Certified Copies under the RTI Act after SC Judgement:
But, after the Supreme Court judgment ICSI Vs. Paras Jain, I have made an RTI application for Certified of Advanced Information Technology Test (AITT) and Practical Training Assessment Test (PT Test), within 30 days ICAI has provided a soft copy of the answer sheet along with the marks secured and Result card at FREE OF COST.
The same has been provided at the end of this article for your reference.
And also 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.
ICAI guidelines and fee for certified copies as per the RTI Act, 2005:
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.
You can refer to this link for the announcement No.13-CA(Exams)/2012.
Further, Rule 4 of the RTI Rules, 2012, prescribes a fee for information 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.
2. Additional Fee for Inspection/Certified Copies:
(i) Inspection of Records
– No fee for the first hour;
– a fee of ₹.5.00 for each subsequent hour or a fraction thereof.
(ii) For each page (in A-4 or A-3 size paper)
– ₹ 2.00 per page of photocopy
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. Login to your RTI portal by entering Username and Password at below link https://rtionline.gov.in/
2. Now, click on submit request option, scroll down and click on the checkbox “I have read and understood the above guidelines.” and then click on the submit button.
Then Online RTI Request Form screen will be displayed. This form can be used to file an online RTI application.
3. In Search Public Authority filed enter the keyword as Chartered and select Institute of Chartered Accountant of India from the drop-down list and click on Ok.
4. Name, address, educational qualifications, communication details will be auto-filled and you can change the same if required.
5. In the field “Is the Applicant Below Poverty Line?”
– Select the option Yes, if you belong to Below Poverty Line BPL category and holds valid proof for the same as 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 do 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.
6. 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 the below link, in the word document format, enter your details and copy-paste the contents in the prescribed field. [https://1drv.ms/w/s!AovtGjzM1VQRoQtZyW1SqPD7d8mH]
7. Now, upload your merged pdf copy of BPL Card (if applicable) and Hall Ticket by clicking supporting document and
– Click on submit button (if BPL category)
– 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 the submit button, after making the payment.
8. On submission of the application, a unique registration number would be issued, which may be referred by the applicant for any references in the future. The applicant will get an email and SMS alert on submission of the application.
Reply from ICAI and additional fee payment:
You can check the status of your application after 30 days from the date of online application by clicking Disposed of a link from the homepage. Your application status will be intimated through SMS and Email also.
Alternatively, you can click on view status and enter Registration Number, E-mail id, Security code and click on submit, you will be intimated about the fees amount to be paid by the way of Demand Draft or Indian Postal Order.
Take a Demand draft or Indian Postal Order for the prescribed amount 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 on the backside of the Demand Draft or Postal order.
Shri Dinesh Kumar Mishra
ICAI Bhawan, P. B. No. 7100,
Indraprastha New Delhi – 110 002
Within one week from the date of receipt of your Demand Draft or Postal order at the aforesaid address your certified copies will be sent to the address mentioned in the RTI application through India Post.
Electronic Demand draft – Convenient and easiest way:
Instead of approaching the bank and standing in a very long waiting 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 sincere gratitude is reserved for Advocate Paras Jain sir, for his invaluable insights and suggestions. I really appreciate his willingness to help 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.
Recently Delhi University withdrew its writ petition from the court on July 26, in view of the Supreme Court judgment in the Paras Jain v. Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI) case and made certified copies available under the RTI by charging Rs. 2/- per page to the students.
There are very remote chances of rejecting the RTI application by ICAI and you must get certified copies of the evaluated answer sheets within 30 days as per the RTI procedure at a nominal cost of Rs. 2/- per page.