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Wednesday, May 18, 2022

Goa Governor urged to bring Raj Bhavan under the Ambit of RTI act

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Adv. Aires Rodrigues has today urged Goa Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai to take the initiative so that the Goa Raj Bhavan complies with the Right to Information Act in the interests of democratic principles and the Constitutional mandate of the Transparency law.

Adv. Rodrigues today called on Governor Pillai at Raj Bhavan and submitted a representation seeking his intervention as all Raj Bhavans across the country and even the Rashtrapati Bhavan come under the purview of the RTI Act which was enacted to ensure Transparency and Accountability in Governance.

Pointing out that for the last over a decade the Goa Raj Bhavan has not been submitting itself to this Transparency law by strangely claiming that it is not a ‘Public Authority’ in terms of the Act, Adv. Rodrigues has drawn the attention of Governor Pillai that the last petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan claiming that the Governor is not a Public Authority is pending before the Supreme Court since 2019.

Adv. Rodrigues in his representation has urged Governor Pillai to uphold the Constitution and the Rule of Law by taking the initiative to rectify this anomaly to ensure that Goa Raj Bhavan does not continue to be the sole Raj Bhavan in the entire country not complying with the RTI Act.

Adv. Rodrigues has further stated that such a move by the Governor would send the right message that Goa Raj Bhavan leads by example in ensuring transparency and openness in Governance within the State of Goa.

Adv. Rodrigues has stated that the RTI Act gives citizens the right to access information about any public authority or institution, including non-government organisations substantially funded by the government thereby making our democracy to work for the people in the real sense.

While pointing out to Governor Pillai that in recent times good governance in Goa has been lacking with trust between the people and the government who are elected to serve being at an all-time low, Adv. Rodrigues in his representation has expressed the hope that the act of empowering the people to obtain information from the Raj Bhavan, the highest public institution in the State and respecting the rule of law would send a powerful message of the Governor’s willingness to ensure the reinstatement of good governance in the state with a citizen-centric approach of transparency, openness and accountability.

Adv. Rodrigues has stated that Governor Pillai has assured that he would take an appropriate decision in the matter.

On a complaint filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues the then State Chief Information Commissioner (GSIC) Motilal Keny on 31st March 2011 had ruled that the Goa Governor was a Public Authority and did come within the ambit of the RTI Act.

Later dismissing the appeal filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan against that order of the GSIC, the Bombay High Court at Goa in a landmark 58 page judgment delivered on 14th November 2011 also ruled that the Governor of Goa was a Public Authority and was bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.

The Raj Bhavan in November 2018 again challenged before the High Court the order passed by the former GSIC Prashant Tendolkar on 15th October 2018 who while disposing of a petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues upheld the earlier order of the Commission holding that the Goa Raj Bhavan is a Public Authority and comes within the ambit of the RTI Act. After moving the High Court against this order the Raj Bhavan moved a Transfer petition before the Supreme Court where the Special Leave Petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan is now pending.

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