Provide video link facility to hear RTI appeals: HC to BMC

Mumbai, Jul 31 (PTI) The Bombay High Court on Friday directed the BMC to ensure that all its offices hearing first appeals filed under the RTI are provided with video conferencing facilities so that people are not asked to appear physically to argue their matters amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A division bench said the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) must chalk out a concrete plan of action to ensure that video conferencing facilities are provided to enable people who have filed appeals under the Right to Information Act (RTI) to argue their matters virtually.

The bench, consisting of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice Sarang Kotwal, was hearing a public interest litigation which claimed the BMC was insisting on people to appear before it physically to argue their first appeals filed under the RTI instead of using video conferencing facility.

The petitioner, advocate Mayur Faria, said in view of the prevailing pandemic, the BMC should hear matters virtually as it would not be possible or might be risky for a person to travel to the ward office concerned.

Faria cited an example of an appeal filed by him before the BMCs 'A' ward and said the executive engineer concerned was now insisting that he appear before him in person for the hearing.

Advocate Yamuna Parekh, appearing for the BMC, on Friday told the court that the 'A' ward office will be provided with a video conference (VC) facility so that it could hear the appeal filed by Faria.

The bench, however, noted that the facility should be extended to everyone and not just Faria.

The public interest litigation filed by the petitioner (Faria) extends not just to him but each member of the public.

'All ward offices should be provided with VC facilities. We are conscious of the fact that it cannot be done overnight.

'The BMC should chalk out a concrete plan of action and see to it that this is done in the next ten days, the court said.

The court directed the competent authority of the BMC to take an appropriate decision on extending video conferencing facilities at all ward offices and posted the matter for further hearing after two weeks. PTI SP RSY RSY

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