The RTI Act 2005 or the CPC has no provision in support of public hearing "IN CAMERA" But the SIC, Kerala always hold its hearing both at Headquarters and at Out stations IN CAMERA, prohibitting members of public from viewing it. Does it have the support of law ? Can we claim that such hearing as not legally valid ?
There is no provision of "in camera" proceedings in the RTI Act.
The whole objective of the RTI Act is "transparency" and that will be totally defeated if the sittings are "in camera".
In fact, I remember a case in front of the CIC wherein the applicant asked for hearing in camera (or not open for public) and the IC strongly turned it down. I cannot get a reference to the case. Just give me some time.
Please also see the Hon'ble Supreme Court Judgement:
Judgment of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in “Naresh Shridhar Mirajakar &
ors. Vs. State of Maharashtra — AIR 1967 SC 1” wherein the Hon’ble
Surpeme Court had stated that in-camera proceedings should be done in rarest
of cases and that all judicial proceedings should be held in open court in order to curb corruption in administration of justice.
Order of the Commission shall be pronounced in open proceedings........
So, how can "in camera" proceedings be construed as "open proceedings" ?
By the way, someone else also complained that West Bengal SIC does not even take notes or have a steno to take minutes of the proceedings during its hearings. How is it physically possible to recollect details of each and every case at the end of the day ?
Now almost all the District Hqrs. of the Country have been connected through NIC network. So holding the hearing through video conferencing shall not only facilitate before Camera and this will in turn relieve the Respondents & Appeallants in travelling to State Capital - a saving of time and money. Why not request the KIC to make best use of the NIC network for the benefit of all.
Sorry Mr.Karira, I had missed your above post and saw it only now.The action of SIC in holding its hearing in camera and falsely reporting it as open court is an offence not expected of from such an official. I had repeated the above allegation in many forums including a written complaint to HE the governor of Kerala who had sent it to the GAD. Everyone just evade it in tune with the prevelent working culture of government offices in Kerala.
Mr.Mohandas, you are just mixing up the 'in camerala hearing' . When the SIC ignored my request for holding hearing through video conference, I had appraised the problem to the GAD of government who is the Nodal Department for SIC and RTI. They had forwarded it to the SIC, Kerala who has again ignored it. I had brought the issue again in person with Mr.Palat Mohandas during his visit to this place two months back followed it with further persuation. I had even brought out the existing video conference capacity in each Districts of Kerala is 'under utilised' which is a criminal waste of public money. No one including SIC just does not bother. When the SIC himself is not interested in RTI cases unless the cases is of news value or plitical stunt which can help media to sing songs of glory of SIC, it does not get attention. My cases of more than 2 years are pending with SIC even after assigning Registration Numbers to them by SIC,
Do you think it is worth it to file a RTI Application with the CPIO of the KSIC and ask for:
1. Certified copies of Rules and Regulations under which KSIC is authorised to conduct proceedings "in camera"
2. Certified Copies of any Rules Notified in the official Gazette by the Appropriate Government (as defined in Sec 2a) or the Competent Authority (as defined in Sec 2e) vide Powers under Sec 27(2)(e) and Sec 28(2)(iv) which allow the KSIC to conduct its proceedings "in camera"
3. Certified copies of any documents/press release/advertisement, etc., wherein the KSIC has informed the public by publishing the relevant facts, while formulating this important policy of conducting its proceedings "in camera", since it affects the public at large, as obligated under Sec 4(1)(c)
4. Reasons under Sec 4(1)(d), for this administrative decision of the KSIC, to conduct its proceedings "in camera", since I am a affected person.
Thank you, Mr.Karira. It is worth. I have completely lost faith in SIC, Kerala. I cannot blame Mr.Mohands,SIC fully. None of his Commissioners are capable of holding independant hearing .He is carying the liability with him. He himself is not healthy enough to hold long hearing You are likely to get following reply " The hearings are not held in camera; but in open court. Due to lack of space, the Commission finds it difficult to accommodate more people in a small room available for hearing." If you come out with another question, as to whythey did not allow others to get in even during the outstation hearings which was held in more spacious rooms, the reply is likely that no one was ever prevented entrance during such hearings and the ommission had no such complaint so far"
This should be a good topic to follow up with ALL SIC's and CIC, asking them whether public is allowed to attend hearings, what is the procedure to attend hearing (walk in or prior written permission), which IC's allow public attendees in their hearings...
One can bring in the preamble of the RTI Act (transparency and accountability) in the beginning of the RTI application and then go on to ask for information.
It will be interesting to know the result.
I will draft one and put it up in a separate thread.
At least if we have the answers, then the public can use that answer to gain entry into the hearings.
Mr.Karira, It will be a good venture. I am with you. Every orders of the Commission having state as pronounced in open court, none of them can admit that they are holding the hearing "In camera". I suggest you better start with SIC, Kerala on whom at least I can vouch that it was held in Camera. In one of my hearing, when I tried to enter the court, the Peon stopped me telling that the first case to be heard being not mine, I cannot enter nor can be anywhere near the place of hearing. I can give you the date and time. Even when he was holding an outstation hearing at Kannur Collecorate, also I was forbidden