Role of the appellant during appearance before the ICs.
It has generally been seen that the SICs ask the appellant to plead / present his case during the appeal proceedings in the cases, where appeals have been filed for the deemed refusal for providing information. Some appellants are not in a position to present their case properly and hence the purpose of the appeal is not achieved.
During the appeal proceedings, if the AA / IC ask the appellant to present his case, he should invite the attention of the AA / IC towards S.19(5), which provides that in appeal proceedings the onus to prove that a denial of a request was justified shall be on the PIO, who denied the request."
Thereafter, the appellant may enjoy the case and has only to find loopholes in the pleadings of the PIO, which is an easier task than to plead a case.
Re: Role of the appellant during appearance before the ICs.
You said it.Your interpretation of Section 19(5) in the context of hearing is commendable. I have been arguing the same aspect but could not connect it with Section 19(5) so far. I do have a 6 full page judgement of SIC, Kerala where the PIO and AA is deemed refused the informatrion and I was called for hearing. I had sought the copy of the comments of PIO/AA on a plea that "I have not received any response from the AA and as such it is futile to spend Rs.3000/- and waste two days to come to Trivandrum without knowing what to defend" I had specifically intimated that my case may be decided on the basis of my application and appeals. The SIC did not like this statement. His view was that "The appellant was summoned to appear before the Commission to substantiate his case. It was the primary duty of a judicial forum to afford an opportunity to both sides to be heard. The principle of natural justice warrant such a procedure" . Of course the view of SIC is not correct. I doubt whether the SIC can summon the appellant. He can only intimate the date of hearing. I doubt whether his power to summon include the appellant. I wish that I knew above feasibility to connect 19(5) earlier. Thanks.