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Will hold virtual hearings on RTI appeals amid pandemic: BMC

The Mumbai civic body on Friday told the Bombay High Court it would conduct virtual hearing on first and second appeals filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act so that applicants do not have to appear physically to argue their matters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

PTI | Mumbai | Updated: 14-08-2020 16:17 IST | Created: 14-08-2020 16:17 IST
Will hold virtual hearings on RTI appeals amid pandemic: BMC

The Mumbai civic body on Friday told the Bombay High Court it would conduct virtual hearing on first and second appeals filed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act so that applicants do not have to appear physically to argue their matters amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Advocate Yamuna Parekh, appearing for the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC), told a division bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice S P Tavade, that circulars have been issued stating that all the first and second appellate officers will conduct hearings on the RTI appeals via video conferencing.

"This would be a temporary arrangement given the COVID-19 pandemic. Once the situation improves, physical hearing would resume," Parekh told the court. The court had last month directed the corporation to ensure that its offices, hearing first and second appeals filed under the RTI Act, are provided with video-conferencing facilities.

The direction was given on a public interest litigation filed by advocate Mayur Faria, claiming that the BMC was insisting on people to appear before it physically to argue their first appeals filed under theRTIinstead of holding it via video-conferencing. Faria said that in view of the prevalent pandemic, theBMCshould hear matters virtually as it would not be possible or might be risky for a person to travel to the concerned ward office.

Faria cited an example of an appeal filed by him before theBMC's A ward and said the executive engineer of the ward was now insisting that he appear before him for the hearing. The court on Friday accepted the BMCs decision and disposed of the petition.


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