Should a hearing be given to all the parties by the PIO/FAA?
The appellant sought information on 22 The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything inconsistent therewith contained in the Official Secrets Act, 1923 (19 of 1923), and any other law for the time being in force or in any instrument having effect by virtue of any law other than this Act. paras from Security and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) requesting for copies of certain documents. The PIO of SEBI provided part information while declining third party information relating to Bombay Stock Exchange Ltd (BSE). In the first appeal, the FAA reversed the decision of PIO and allowed inspection of documents subject to the severability clause of section 10 of the RTI Act. The BSE filed an appeal against the order of the PIO for being non speaking and on the ground that no opportunity of hearing was given to BSE before passing the impugned order.
View of the CIC
The Commission held that the PIOs are mandated to send a copies of their orders to the third party under section 11 (3) of RTI Act, from whom objections are sought under section 11 (1). The Commission further held that it is not practical to lay down an inflexible rule that PIOs and AAs will always offer an opportunity of hearing to the parties, let alone to the third party. They may do so as per their discretion, keeping in view the complexity of legal and factual issues involved, without forgetting that timelines are to be adhered to, being the essence of the Act. The Commission held that the FAA should pass a self-contained and speaking order in future.
Citation: BSE v. SEBI in File No.CIC/SM/A/2011/001687 (full bench)