Secretary to Goa Governor Mr. Mihir Vardhan who is the First Appellate Authority under the Right to Information Act will on December 2nd hear the appeal filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues over the reply received from the Raj Bhavan Joint Secretary to Governor and Public Information Officer (PIO) Gaurish Shankhwalkar that the letters written by former Goa Governor Satya Pal Malik to Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister were not available.
In terms of the RTI Act the First Appellate Authority has to dispose the appeal within 30 days after which a Second appeal would lie before the State Information Commission and then the High Court.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues in his appeal has submitted that while failing to furnish the information sought the PIO has high-handedly taken shelter under unacceptable reasons in rank contravention of the RTI Act.
Alleging that the PIO has denied information with erroneous, frivolous, unwarranted bald headed and malafide intentions while acting as a caged parrot of the powers to be, Adv Rodrigues has submitted that the action of the PIO to deny information was illegal, untenable and with suspect motives.
Pointing out that the information sought by him very much exists at the Goa Raj Bhavan, Adv, Rodrigues has in his appeal further submitted that if the letters sought by him were infact searched for and could not be found the PIO was duty bound to seek the assistance of the former Governor Satya Pal Malik.
Adv. Rodrigues in his appeal has also stated that the reply of the Raj Bhavan PIO implies that there was no correspondence whatsoever from Governor Malik to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister during his over nine month tenure in Goa which factually could not be true.
In his application under the Right to Information Act, Adv. Aires Rodrigues had sought from Raj Bhavan copies of all the official letters written by Governor Malik to Prime Minister and Home Minister during his tenure from 3rd November 2019 to 18th August 2020.
The Public Information Officer at the Raj Bhavan informed Adv. Rodrigues that the information sought by him was searched but is not available in the files and records of the Raj Bhavan.
The Raj Bhavan further informed Adv. Rodrigues that there is a system of the Governor directly writing to the higher authorities and that copies of such confidential and personal correspondence is not usually handed over to the Governor’s Secretariat.