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


    rtiindia

    presence of RTI Applicant

     

    The First Appellate Authority (FAA) passed the order stating that because the RTI Applicant did not appear, it is assumed that RTI applicant has nothing to say and thus the appeal is disposed of. The RTI applicant complained that the First Appellate Authority sent hearing notices and when he went to his office, he would not facilitate the hearing. The hearing of the first appeal was postponed for 5 times because of which he has to suffer lot of inconvenience and lose all working days. Information Commission noted that this reflect a non ­serious attitude towards the first appeal hearing and amount to violation of statutory provisions which is limiting the period of hearing to 45 days and passed the order that after giving the due notice of hearing, it is the duty of the FAA to consider the written appeal of the appellant even if he is not present on the date of hearing and decide on the basis of the material before him whether the appellant is present or not.

     

    The RTI Act, 2005 provides the first appeal before the designated senior officer of the same Public Authority, with a view to provide a quick hearing and address the problems/grievance, if any, and clarify the doubts of the RTI applicant. Compelling the appellant to take 5 rounds for just first appeal was not proper. The Public Authority has a responsibility under the RTI Act to conclude the hearing.

    Presence of RTI Applicant

    Sh. Ashok Kumar RTI Applicant submitted that through his three RTI applications dt. 8­10­2012, 8­ 10­2012 and 20­10­2012 to SDM(Hauz Khas/Mehrauli) , GNCTD, he is seeking information regarding the procedure for issue of SC Certificate, OBC certificate and the Birth Certificate and other related details. The PIO replied in all the three appeals on 27­11­2012, 7­11­2012 and 16­11­2014 providing the information. The appellant made first appeals in all the three cases, whereby the FAA by his orders all dated 8­3­2013 disposed of the three appeals stating that the PIO/SDM(HK) has given the reply to the appellant and as the appellant did not appear before him during the hearing, he has nothing to say in the matter.

     

    Extracts of Decision (as available in the CIC website here!)

     

    The appellant complained that the First Appellate Authority sent hearing notices and when he went to his office, he would not facilitate the hearing. The hearing of the first appeal was postponed for 5 times because of which he has to suffer lot of inconvenience and lose all working days. The Commission recommends the FAA to take notices of hearing seriously and hear the appeal on the day scheduled without adjourning the same unless there is a compelling reason. Differing the first appeal 5 times in this case, reflect a non­serious attitude towards the first appeal hearing. The RTI Act, 2005 provides the first appeal before the designated senior officer of the same Public Authority, with a view to provide a quick hearing and address the problems/grievance, if any, and clarify the doubts of the RTI applicant. Compelling the appellant to take 5 rounds for just first appeal is not proper. The Public Authority has a responsibility under the RTI Act to conclude the hearing. The appellant submitted that the first date fixed was 2­1­2013 and finally it was heard on 5­3­ 2013. This shows that the First Appellate Authority has taken more than 45 days and made the appellant to visit his office 5 times. This will amount to violation of statutory provisions which is limiting the period of hearing to 45 days. Relevant Portion of the Section is reproduced hereunder –

     

    Section 19 Appeal

     

    “(1) Any person who, does not receive a decision within the time specified in sub­section (1) or clause (a) of sub­section (3) of section 7, or is aggrieved by a decision of the Central Public Information Officer or State Public Information Officer, as the case may be, may within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision prefer an appeal to such officer who is senior in rank to the Central Public Information

     

    Officer or State Public Information Officer as the case may be, in each public authority:

     

    Provided that such officer may admit the appeal after the expiry of the period of thirty days if he or she is satisfied that the appellant was prevented by sufficient cause from filing the appeal in time.

     

    (6) An appeal under sub­section (1) or sub­section (2) shall be disposed of within thirty days of the receipt of the appeal or within such extended period not exceeding a total of forty­five days from the date of filing thereof, as the case may be, for reasons to be recorded in writing. “

     

    The Public authority is expected to avoid such things. Ultimately it is not known whether the FAA has passed any order or not. The FAA order dt. 8­3­2013 shown to the Commission today during the hearing, reveals that because the appellant did not appear, the FAA assumed that he has nothing to say and thus the appeal was disposed of. The Commission recommends that after giving the due notice of hearing, it is the duty of the FAA to consider the written appeal of the appellant even if he is not present on the date of hearing and decide on the basis of the material before him whether the appellant is present or not.

     

    5. In view of the above, the respondent authority is directed to facilitate inspection of the record to the appellant in all the three cases, so that he can see the files which provide for procedure available and requirements for procuring SC certificate/OBC Certificate/Birth Certificate and he can seek photo copies, which can be given, on payment of costs. Inspection may be facilitated within 2 weeks from the date of receipt of this order.

     

    You should read the blog post here to know more about the presence of applicant in front of First Appellate Authority here: Is it Mandatory to appear for Hearing by First Appellate Authority?

     

    Do you have anything to add to the above decision. Please post it in the comments below, or if you want to ask our experts a question, head straight to our forum and ask. Here is the link to our forum!

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    As per the above decision of the FAA, it is clear that he had knowingly violated and disrespected the RTI Act. As such the CIC ought to have taken a serious disciplinary action against the FAA or the CIC should have recommended to the FAA's higher authority to take disciplinary action. But nothing seems to have been done. The FAA was given simple direction. This may not be a good justice. K. Mohamed Ibrahim

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    The first appellate authority is duty bound to dispose the appeal on merits, whether or not the appellant is present before him. The FAA cannot take it easy to dispose the appeal when the appellant is not present. In fact in such a case his job is all the more tough because the appellant cannot plead his case.

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    I was beginning to suspect that RTI was becoming a toothless tiger after seeing some verdicts deprecating the chance to take up the case of deficiency of service to Consumer Forums. Not all are lost !

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    FAA has to decide on merit and merit alone. Appellant may or may not atted, FAA must dispose of 1 st appeal within prescribed time Harbans Sharma

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    […] recently had the commission passed a strong judgement against First Appellate Authority (FAA) when the FAA passed the order stating that because the RTI […]

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