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Is it Mandatory to appear for Hearing by First Appellate Authority?


RAVEENA_O

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There is not even a whisper about hearing by FAA in RTI Act, 2005. There is also no provision under the Act to prescribe procedures with regard to the manner in which FAA has to conduct and decide first appeal.

 

If at all there is a hearing fixed by FAA, then FAA must give Appellant a copy of submission made by PIO before FAA against First Appeal. Hearing warrants only where there is a dispute e.g the PIO contents that he has supplied information as against Applicant's contention that no information is supplied. Then again the onus to prove that he supplied information lies with PIO only.

 

Look from a different angle - Rule 19(5) provides that the onus to prove, that denial of a request was justified, shall be on the PIO who denied the request. Therefore, the FAA has to hear only the PIO and give his decision whether PIO has acted within the framework of RTI Act or not. The only power available to the FAA is to give direction to his own PIO who is lower in hierarchy or to reject First Appeal within 30/45 days.

 

It is also pertinent to note that no specific powers have been vested with FAA other than that the First Appeal shall be disposed off within 30/45 days, whereas CIC has powers to enforce statutory compliance under Sec-18 & Sec-19(8). Specific provisions under Sec-18 as well as procedure under Sec-19(10) read with Sec-27(2)(e) to decide complaint or 2nd Appeal are also required to be complied with by CIC. However, proceedings before FAA is not governed by any prescribed procedure as that of CIC.

 

CIC in its decision dated 30/10/2014 (copy attached) suggested that the FAA should, as far as possible give the appellant including the third party, if any, an opportunity of hearing specially if he so requests, without forgetting that the essence of RTI Act is to provide complete, correct and timely information to the appellant.

 

Many FAA's are simply rejecting first appeal solely on the ground that Appellant failed to appear before FAA and failed to submit his say, instead of examining the conduct and decision of his own PIO in not supplying information. FAAs are granting hearing only to harass Appellants by calling them to a distant place so as to make them waste/spend considerable time and money.

 

In view of this, if an Appellant is not appearing for hearing before FAA, then the Appellant must immediately advise FAA that there is no statutory and mandatory provision for such hearing under RTI Act and hence Appellant has no intention to appear for hearing and the appeal be decided based on submissions made in first appeal.

 

In addition to above, in order to dissuade Appellate Authority to feign ex-parte decision and to strengthen his stand for Second Appeal [under Section-19(3) before the Information Commission] an Appellant may also file a fresh RTI Application before the same PIO and seek --

 

[1] certified copy of Rules framed by Appropriate Government under section-27 of RTI Act,2005, whereby an Appellant under section - 19(1) needs to be called for hearing or heard personally by Appellate Authority for deciding the Appeal under section 19(1) of RTI Act, 2005.

 

[2] certified copy of Rules framed by Competent Authority under section-28 of RTI Act,2005, whereby an Appellant under section - 19(1) needs to be called for hearing or heard personally by Appellate Authority for deciding the Appeal under section 19(1) of RTI Act, 2005.

[3] Certified copy of Rules framed under Section-27 and/or 28 of RTI Act, 2005, based on which Sh. ........................ (name and address) had been called for hearing by Appellate Authority in Appeal dated ............... preferred by him against PIO's order no. ............... dt..............

 

[4] Certified copy of the say/remarks submitted or submissions made by PIO before First Appellate Authority in compliance of Section-19(5) of RTI Act, 2005, with respect to First Appeal dated ................arising out RTI Application dated ...................... preferred by Sh. ........... (name and address)

 

 

CIC decision dt 10-6-14 : Ashok Kumar Vs GNCTD

 

 

Also read:

Presence of RTI Applicant not essential while hearing appeal- Rules CIC

 

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