Is Personal Hearing of Appellant mandatory in First Appeal under RTI?

Is Personal Hearing of Appellant mandatory in First Appeal under RTI?In case we do not receive the decision of the Central Public Information Officer (CPIO) or the State Public Information Officer (SPIO), as the case may be, within the time specified, or are aggrieved at the decision of the CPIO or SPIO, we may submit first appeal to the First Appellate Authority (FAA) in the concerned public authority within thirty days from the expiry of such period or from the receipt of such a decision. First Appeal is important opportunity for applicant to get the information by making personal presence and justifying his demand for information. However, after receiving First Appeal, many a times FAA passes orders without hearing or sending hearing notice to the appellant, causing the appellant to loose opportunity to justify himself. Hence the question “is Personal Hearing of Appellant mandatory in First Appeal under RTI?”.

In the matter of Mr. R. K. Jain vs. Department of Legal Affairs Government of India, registered under File No. File No.CIC/SA/A/2014/000254, the Central Information Commission observed the following:

“Passing orders in first appeal without hearing or sending hearing notice is illegal and will render the order invalid. The Commission has set aside the order of First Appellate Authority for breach of natural justice by denying the appellant a chance of presenting his case and by raising entirely a new defence which was never claimed. The Commission recommended to initiate disciplinary action against the officer who was First Appellate Authority though he retired from service.”
You may read the complete order of commission at http://rti.india.gov.in/cic_decisions/CIC_MP_C_2014_000106_M_144259.pdf.
From above order it is very clear that First Appellate Authority must provide opportunity of personal hearing to the appellant. This post addresses the question “is Personal Hearing of Appellant mandatory in First Appeal under RTI?”.

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