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The Goa Raj Bhavan on Wednesday informed the Goa State 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".
In a 15-page affidavit submitted to the Commission, Rupesh Thakur, Secretary to the Governor, said the Governor enjoys immunity under Article 361 of the Indian Constitution and therefore is not answerable to any Court or the Commission.
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.
“The Governor is the appointing authority of the State Information Commissioners and is also vested with the power to recommend their removal,” the affidavit also stated.
The affidavit was filed after a city-based lawyer-activist Aires Rodrigues in a complaint to the Commission had said that since the Goa Raj Bhavan was a public authority, the institution’s failure to appoint a Public Information Officer was “illegal, mala fide and without reasonable cause”. In the complaint filed by advocate Aires Rodrigues under section 18 (1) (a) of the RTI Act 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 Goa Raj Bhavan has also not made the mandatory disclosures required under section 4 (1) 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 Goa Raj Bhavan.
The next hearing in the case has been set for July 26.