Verdict on RTI appeals against Goa Raj Bhavan adjourned to 18th April

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Goa State Chief Information Commissioner (GSCIC) Vishwas Satarkar has adjourned to April 18th his judgment on the two appeals filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues over the failure of Goa Raj Bhavan to furnish information sought by him under the RTI Act.

Adv. Aires Rodrigues in his appeals submitted that the Raj Bhavan had denied information with erroneous, frivolous, and unwarranted bald headed intentions while the non-furnishing of information was illegal, untenable and with suspect motives. Adv. Rodrigues also stated that while failing to furnish the information sought, the Raj Bhavan had high-handedly taken shelter under unacceptable reasons in rank contravention of the RTI Act.

On 11th October 2021, Adv. Aires Rodrigues had sought from Goa Raj Bhavan copies of all the official letters written by then Governor Satya Pal Malik to the Prime Minister and Home Minister during his tenure in Goa from 3rd November 2019 to 18th August 2020 but Public Information Officer (PIO) Gaurish Shankhwalkar informed Adv. Rodrigues that letters written by former Governor Malik to the Prime Minister and the Union Home Minister were not available despite being searched.

In another application Adv. Rodrigues had sought a copy of all the official letters received by Goa Governor from Prime Minister and Union Home Minister from November 3rd 2019 to August 18th 2020 which also pertained to the period when Satya Pal Malik was Governor of Goa. PIO Gaurish Shankhwalkar in his reply to Adv. Rodrigues stated that the official letters from Prime Minister and Union Home Minister were all received in closed sealed envelopes and were handed over to Governor’s Personal Secretary and that he does not know about the contents of those letters and that they are not part of the records and files of his office and as such the information sought was not available with him.

Adv. Rodrigues pointed to the GSCIC that an inspection of the inward and outward registers of the Raj Bhavan revealed that there were letters written by then Governor Satya Pal Malik to the Prime Minister and Union Home Minister and letters received by the Governor from them.

It may be recalled that for over a decade Goa Raj Bhavan was the only Raj Bhavan in the country not complying with the RTI Act while claiming that it was not a ‘Public Authority’. But on 2nd October 2021 Governor P. S. Sreedharan Pillai decided to lift that decade-long veil of secrecy by announcing that the Goa Raj Bhavan would now abide by the provisions of the RTI Act after which the Raj Bhavan received two RTI applications from Adv. Aires Rodrigues.

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