New Delhi: The Central Information Commission has directed the All India Institute of Medical Sciences here to make public archives of its question papers for MBBS entrance examination for the past 20 years.

The direction came after the premier medical institute objected to the disclosure of information to a RTI applicant, saying the question papers were original "literary" works of experts, the copyright of which was vested with the AIIMS.

Citing exemption clauses of the transparency law, the AIIMS said it was under no obligation to disclose them unless larger public warrants them to be disclosed. It also said experts who prepared these papers had special rights as per Copyrights Act and the institute was protecting these rights.

It also said making these papers were held in fiduciary capacity with AIIMS by the experts who prepared them, hence cannot be disclosed. The institute also raised apprehension that these question papers might be used for commercial purposes.

Rejecting the contentions of the AIIMS, Information Commissioner said exemption clause of the RTI Act regarding copyright information is attracted only when disclosure would harm competitive position of third party and not of the medical institute itself.

"It is apparent that AIIMS is not a commercial body that competes with other organisations. Further, it is stated that question papers are prepared by experts for AIIMS. It does not appear that these experts are in a competitive business such that disclosure of these question papers along with their keys could harm their competitive position," Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi pointed out.

The CIC also rejected the arguments that since these question papers were held by AIIMS in fiduciary capacity, they should be withheld from disclosure.

Gandhi said all relationships usually have an element of trust but all cannot be classified as fiduciary.

"Information provided in discharge of statutory requirement, or to obtain a job, or to get a license, cannot be considered to have been given in a fiduciary relationship. In the present matter, since question papers are prepared by experts for AIIMS, there may be some element of trust between such experts and AIIMS," he said.

However, there does not appear to be a fiduciary relationship between experts and AIIMS where the latter is required to act for the benefit of the former, Gandhi said.

He said AIIMS has raised certain "ancillary contention" that disclosure may serve commercial interest of few persons.

"The Commission is of the considered view that whether disclosure of information would serve the commercial interest would necessarily entail examination of the purpose for seeking information, which is prohibited under section 6(2) of the RTI Act," he said.

According to AIIMS, the question bank was limited and if it is disclosed, questions will no longer remain a secret, which would be a compromise on the high standards of selection procedure and selection of meritorious students.

But the CIC rejected the argument, saying according to the RTI Act, information could only be denied on the basis of clauses given in the law.

"These addition contentions...do not come within the purview of section eight and nine of the RTI Act and therefore not tenable," he said, ordering to make the disclosure before October 10.

(Agencies)