Kumar Shanu is an advocate and a social activist. Kumar Shanu, the co-founder of Whistle for Public Interest (WHIP), is by known in India for his Public Interest Litigation and effective use of the Right to Information Act. WHIP is a platform for law students and young lawyers to put their advocacy skills to use in solving public issues. The organisation founded in 2015, works for promoting transparency and accountability in the affairs of public authorities in India.
Kumar Shanu’s fight against the non-disclosure of evaluated answer-scripts under the Right to Information Act to the Indian students by different educational institutions including the Central Board for Secondary Education(CBSE) before the Supreme Court has enabled millions of students exercise their “fundamental right” to know.
The country’s leading legal news network, Bar and Bench, featured WHIP as the most inspirational law school story of the year 2016. Kumar Shanu also advises government and private bodies on wide range of legal issues. Kumar Shanu is a graduate from The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, Tufts University. He was also an elected student representative to the Fletcher Student Council. Shanu got inducted to the university’s prestigious ‘Honos Civicus Society’ in recognition of his engagement in public service and leadership activities and contribution in strengthening civic life in the United States and abroad during his studies.
Like Kumar Shanu, Paras Jain is also an advocate and social activist.
In 2012, when Paras was studying as a student at the Institute of Company Secretaries of India (ICSI), he had demanded a copy of his answer sheet. Despite the RTI Rules, 2012, the ICSI refused to give the copy at Rs 2 per page and instead demanded Rs 500 per subject.
When the Institute refused to comply with the RTI Rules, he filed the case in the Delhi High Court. Interestingly, he fought his own case, single-handedly without any lawyer. Paying heed to the Jain’s argument that the many students coming from not so privileged background would never be able to avail the facility just because of the high fee being charged for the same.
On April 19, the Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice NV Ramana and Justice S Abdul Nazeer too has given the verdict in favor of Pars Jain. While speaking to The Logical Indian, Jain, who works as a lawyer now, said, “If a student demands his/her copies of answer-sheet under the RTI Act, the Examination Body has to provide such copies as per the fee prescribed under the RTI Rules i.e.., Rs 2 per page. Students are no more required to pay a high fee of Rs 500 to Rs 1000 for obtaining copies of answer-sheets.
WHISTLE FOR PUBLIC INTEREST (WHIP)
Paras Jain, along with Kumar Shanu co-founded the Whistle for Public Interest. WHIP is a platform for law students and young lawyers to put their advocacy skills to use in solving public issues and works for promoting transparency and accountability in the affairs of public authorities in India. In 2016, it came to WHIP’s knowledge that CBSE was charging an exorbitant fee of Rs 1200 for obtaining the copies of answer-sheets and was blatantly denying the access to evaluated answer-sheets under the RTI Act.
It was not only the violation of the fundamental right of millions of students every year but also a contempt of the Supreme Court of India. While still at the law school, in 2016, the co-founders of WHIP filed a contempt petition against the Chairman, CBSE. Consequently, a division bench of the Supreme Court comprising Shri. Ranjan Gogoi J. and Shri. P.C. Pant J. directed the Chairman, CBSE to scrupulously observe the directions of Supreme Court issued in Aditya Bandhopadhyay’s case and provide the copies of evaluated answer-sheets as per rules made under the RTI Act.
Recently, WHIP has issued a legal notice to ICAI for negligence in checking of answer script of Mr. Mridul Arora (CA Final Student)