Goa governor does not come under RTI: Raj Bhavan

Panaji (Goa) [India], July 11 (ANI): The Goa Raj Bhavan on Wednesday informed the GoaState Information Commission (GSIC) that the Goa Governor does not come under the purview of the Right to Information Act as the Governor is not a "Public Authority". The Secretary to Goa Governor Rupesh Kumar Thakur in his reply against the complaint filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues over non-compliance of the RTI Act by the Raj Bhavan, stated that Goa Raj Bhavan is not a legal entity and certainly not a 'Public Authority'. The GSIC has fixed the matter for final arguments on July 26. Pointing out that the Governor enjoys immunity under Article 361 of the Constitution of India and is not answerable to any court, Thakur stated that Governor is the appointing authority of the State Information Commissioners and is also vested with the power to recommend their removal. While denying that all other Raj Bhavans have appointed Public Information Officers, Thakur said that merely because some other Raj Bhavans have appointed a Public Information Officer does not mean that the Goa Raj Bhavan is bound or compelled by law to also appoint a Public Information Officer. The Secretary to the Governor has further stated that the Governor not being a Public authority cannot be compelled or directed by the State Information Commission to appoint a Public Information Officer. In the complaint filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues under section 18 (1) (a) of the RTIAct has drawn the attention of the GSIC that the Goa Raj Bhavan despite being a "Public authority in terms of section 2 (h) of the RTI Act has not appointed a Public Information Officer (PIO) for members of the public to be able to seek information and that the GoaRaj Bhavan has also not made the mandatory disclosures required under section 4 (1) of the RTI Act. Advocate Rodrigues in his complaint has stated that as the Goa Raj Bhavan is covered under the definition of public authority, the failure to appoint a PIO was illegal, very high-handed, malafide and without reasonable cause. While seeking directions to the Goa Raj Bhavan to immediately appoint a Public Information Officer and to also make the mandatory disclosures under Section 4 (1) of the RTI as required by law, he has sought that the GSIC also impose a penalty on the Goa Raj Bhavan as prescribed under Section 20 of the RTI Act. After hearing a complaint filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues the then State Chief Information Commissioner Motilal Keny on March 31, 2011 ruled that the Goa Governor was a "Public Authority" and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. Later dismissing the appeal filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan against the order of the GSIC, the Bombay High Court at Goa in a landmark judgment pronounced on November 14, 2011, also ruled that the Governor of Goa was a Public Authority and was bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act. The Goa Raj Bhavan later challenged the Bombay High Court judgement in the Supreme Court. A Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy on January 30, 2018 dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the GoaRaj Bhavan.
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