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Aires Rodrigues

Governor and Raj Bhavan under the purview of RTI

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Atul Patankar

Instead of giving soundbites, if Ms Aruna uses her influence thru NAC to convince everyone in government that the RTI is a good thing, and its here to stay, it will have more practical utility for the nation.

 

Being in the highest recommendatory body in the country, and being a voice of the downtrodden at the same time, is ironical and contradictory.

 

NCPRI's recommendation for people to "step up the political campaign to bring Raj Bhavan in Goa under the RTI" is comic, to say the least.

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Sajib Nandi

RTI Act: Same Governor comes under it in Maharashtra, but not in Goa

 

As reported by www.moneylife.in on October 19, 2011:

http://www.moneylife.in/article/rti-act-same-governor-comes-under-it-in-maharashtra-but-not-in-goa/20709.html

 

pratibhapatil_beach.jpg

 

Kateekal Sankaranarayanan is the Governor of Maharashtra as well as that of Goa. While an activist in Goa has procured information under the RTI Act from the office of the Governor of Maharashtra, he has been declined information in Goa’s Raj Bhavan. Can things get any stranger?

 

In January 2011, Goa-based RTI (Right to Information) activist, Aries Rodrigues, demanded information under the RTI Act regarding President Pratibha Patil’s controversial four-day visit to Goa which was declared as a ‘private visit’ via a press release issued by the Governor’s office in Goa. (At that time, Dr SS Sidhu was the Governor of Goa. In September 2011, he was replaced by Kateekal Sankaranarayanan who holds the posts of Governor, both in Goa and Maharashtra).

 

Mr Rodrigues was denied information stating that the Goa Governor’s office does not come under the purview of the RTI Act. So, Mr Rodrigues demanded the same information from the office of the Governor of Maharashtra where Mr Sankaranarayanan was, and still is, the Governor. Lo and behold, he was given the information which confirmed that the President was indeed on an official visit to Goa and not on a private one as claimed by the Goa Governor’s office, for which the Goa government spent Rs14.81 lakh from taxpayers’ money.

 

Mr Rodrigues told Moneylife, “Rs3,20,250 was spent on lodging & boarding in Cidade de Goa for members of Ms Patil’s entourage; Rs1,29,915 for other such members who were put up in Goa International Centre; Rs,6,23,188 was spent on vehicles hired from GTDC (Goa Tourism Development Corporation); Rs2,01,220 was spent on lunch for the President at Tax Exotica at Benaulim; Rs1,19,999 was spent by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat who hosted a lunch in her honour at Cidade de Goa; Rs20,000 was spent on boat rides and jet ski rides and Rs4,400 on flowers. Why was this then officially pronounced as a ‘private’ visit by the Raj Bhavan in Goa?”

 

Incidentally, the President of India’s office is also under the RTI Act but in Goa, Governors have sought legal intervention to claim that they do not come under the RTI Act. Last week, when stalwart RTI activist Aruna Roy visited Goa for a public lecture, she reiterated, “When the Maharashtra Governor comes under RTI, how can the Goa Governor be an exception? The situation is obviously wrong. Even the President of India is covered by the Act.”

 

Mr Rodrigues has been campaigning against the Governors’ stance of claiming to be out of the RTI Act. The Governor is an authority established or constituted under the Constitution and therefore is declared as a ‘Public Authority’ under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act and so he cannot hide behind Article (361) of the Indian Constitution which does not make him answerable to any court or performance of his office, say experts. However, Mr Rodrigues has been fighting a relentless battle to bring Goa’s Raj Bhavan under the purview of the RTI Act.

 

On 29 November 2010, Mr Rodrigues had sought information from the Goa Raj Bhavan under RTI, details of action taken on the complaints made by him to the Governor of Goa against Advocate General of Goa, Subodh Kantak. He had also sought copies of file notings and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the Advocate General.

 

On 30th November, just a day later, the Goa Raj Bhavan refused to furnish the information sought.

 

On 21st December, Mr Rodrigues filed a complaint against the Raj Bhavan with the State Information Commission. On 22 December 2010, the State Information Commission sent a notice directing the then Governor Dr SS Sidhu to personally appear before the state chief information commissioner on 4 January 2011.

 

On 23rd December, Mr Rodrigues filed a caveat before the Goa Bench of the Bombay High Court against Governor Dr SS Sidhu, anticipating that he might move the High Court against the notice issued to him by the Goa State Information Commission (GSIC) directing him to personally appear before the GSIC in connection with a complaint filed against him for not complying with the RTI Act.

 

On 31 March 2011, Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Motilal Keny held that the Governor is a ‘Public Authority’ and should furnish information sought by Mr Rodrigues.

 

On 22 April 2011, Governor of Goa Dr SS Sidhu took his battle against the RTI Act to the Bombay High Court at Goa. The Bench of the Bombay High Court in August 2011 comprising Justice DG Karnik and Justice FM Reis heard the Raj Bhavan’s petition for over four days and has reserved the Judgment.

 

RTI activist and leading Advocate Satish Sonak said, “Their petition in the High Court also states that since Goa has only one Chief Information Commissioner and the other post of State Information Commissioner is vacant, the CIC’s order of Governor being a Public Authority is not valid—the two-member Bench commission would be considered a full quorum. This is ridiculous, as it is not the peoples’ fault if the government has not filled up the vacancy. Also, there are several states having a single post of state information commission and their decisions are tantamount to a full-fledged Bench.”

 

Goa Governor Mr K Sankaranarayanan, like his predecessor Dr SS Sidhu, has refused to comply with the RTI Act (although his Raj Bhavan in Maharashtra comes under the RTI), as was evident in the information sought by Mr Rodrigues regarding details of total expenditure incurred in 2011 of the Goa Governor’s official and unofficial visits out of Goa.

 

States Mr Rodrigues, “It is strange how Governor Mr Sankaranarayanan who as Governor of Maharashtra is complying with the RTI Act, was strangely claiming that in Goa that he is not a Public Authority. It is inconceivable that the same person was taking a different stand as Governor in two States.”

 

In 2007, Pune-based school teacher Anagha Bagul had asked under RTI Act, details of the then Governor of Maharashtra SM Krishna’s visits outside the State between December 2004 and November 2006. She was denied information, so she went into first appeal to the Appellate Authority which allowed her the information. The Additional Comptroller of the Governor’s office provided her the information. It showed that Mr Krishna was out of Maharashtra for 200 days, mostly for private visits to Bengaluru and other southern states. His visits included weddings, classical dance shows, funerals and sports meetings. It included 31visits to Bengaluru where he had served as chief minister and had taken his wife along on 26 out of 67 such tours. He had also visited the Tirupati temple in Andhra Pradesh besides VIP weddings in Delhi. Stung by this revelation, Mr Krishna had publicly declared that he would henceforth foot his own bills for personal visits.

 

Ms Bagul said she was curious to know how public money is utilised by people serving the highest Government offices.

 

Goa seems to be smitten by legal interventions when it comes to the issue of the RTI Act. During my recent visit, I was surprised to note that Public Information Officers (PIOs) and Appellate Authorities often take the help of lawyers for first and second appeal hearings under the RTI Act, which incidentally is illegal.

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Atul Patankar

As reported at basantipurtimes.blogspot.com on November 14, 2011

 

GOA GOVERNOR LOOSES BATTLE AGAINST RTI ACT AS HIGH COURT RULES HE IS A PUBLIC AUTHORITY

 

In a major embarrassment to the Goa Raj Bhavan the Bombay High Court at Goa today ruled that the Governor of Goa was a Public Authority and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

 

Pronouncing the much awaited judgment today the High Court held that the Governor enjoyed no immunity from the Right to Information Act and that the Public Information Officer at the Goa Raj Bhavan was duty bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.

 

A Division Bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice D.G.Karnik and Justice F.M.Reis had in August this year reserved the judgment after hearing final arguments in the petition filed by Goa Raj Bhavan.

 

The Governor of Goa had refused to furnish information sought by Adv. Aires Rodrigues under the RTI Act while claiming that he was not a "Public Authority".

 

Adv. Aires Rodrigues had sought from Goa Raj Bhavan under the RTI Act details of the action taken by the Goa Governor on the complaints filed by him against the Advocate General of Goa Mr. Subodh Kantak. Adv. Rodrigues had also sought copies of noting sheets and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the Advocate General.

 

The Goa Raj Bhavan in its petition before the High Court had contended that the Governor not being a "Public Authority" does not come within the purview of the RTI Act. The Goa Raj Bhavan had also contended that the Goa State Information Commission had not been properly constituted and that the State Chief Information Commissioner could not have heard matters in the absence of another Information Commissioner.

 

The State Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Motilal Keny on 31st March this year had ruled that the Goa Governor was a "Public Authority" and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

 

The High Court in its order today however held that the Goa State Information Commission has to be a multi-member body and could not function with just the Chief Information Commissioner.

 

The former Chief Justice of India J.S.Verma who is also a former Governor himself on a visit to Goa earlier this year had publicly opined that the Goa Governor was a Public Authority and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act. A similar view was also strongly expressed by noted RTI Activist Aruna Roy while in Goa last month.

 

Ironically the current Goa Governor Mr. K. Sankaranarayanan who is complying with the RTI Act as Governor of Maharashtra in Goa like his predecessor Dr. S.S.Sidhu had also refused to comply with the Act in Goa where he is holding additional charge as Governor.

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karira

According to another news report (Economic Times : Goa governor comes within ambit of Right to Information Act: Bombay High Court - The Economic Times) , the Bombay HC has also held that the Goa State Information Commission has to be a multi-member body and could not function with just the Chief Information Commissioner.

 

This could be a window of opportunity for many activists in States where there is only one member SIC.

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Atul Patankar

Will it mean that any decisions given by a 'single member SIC' are bad in law, and not required to be adhered to?

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karira
Will it mean that any decisions given by a 'single member SIC' are bad in law, and not required to be adhered to?

 

Technically yes, but High Courts in HP and Uttarakhand have refused to declare all decisions of such SICs null and void - claiming that it will lead to chaos.

 

On the other hand, the Calcutta High Court sent one matter back to the SIC and asked it to rehear it after it was "properly constituted".

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karira

As reported by UNI in newkerala.com on 17 Nov 2011:

Caveat files in Supreme Court against Goa Governor in RTI case [newKerala.com News # 108571]

 

Caveat files in Supreme Court against Goa Governor in RTI case

 

Panaji, Nov 17 : A caveat has been filed before the Supreme Court by Adv. Aires Rodrigues against Goa Governor K Sankaranarayanan in connection with the Right to Information Act case today.

 

The caveat has been filed by Rodrigues, anticipating that Governor of Goa may move the Supreme Court against the order of the Bombay High Court at Goa which has ruled that Governor of Goa was a Public Authority and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

 

Adv.Rodrigues in his caveat prayed that no order be passed without notice to him on any petition that may be filed before the Supreme Court by the Governor of Goa or any Raj Bhavan Official.

 

While ruling that the Governor of Goa was a Public Authority, the Bombay High Court at Goa in the judgement pronounced on November 14 also held that the Governor enjoyed no immunity from the Right to Information Act and that the Public Information Officer at the Goa Raj Bhavan was duty bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.

 

The Governor of Goa had refused to furnish information sought by Adv. Rodrigues under the RTI Act while claiming that he was not a Public Authority.

 

Adv. Rodrigues had sought from Goa Raj Bhavan under the RTI Act details of the action taken by the Goa Governor on the complaints filed by him against the Advocate General of Goa Mr.

 

Subodh Kantak. he had also sought copies of noting sheets and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the Advocate General of Goa.

 

The Goa Raj Bhavan in its petition before the High Court had contended that the Governor, not being a Public Authority, does not come within the purview of the RTI Act.

 

The State Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Motilal Keny on March 31 this year had ruled that the Goa Governor was a Public Authority and did come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.

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Atul Patankar
Technically yes, but High Courts in HP and Uttarakhand have refused to declare all decisions of such SICs null and void - claiming that it will lead to chaos.

 

On the other hand, the Calcutta High Court sent one matter back to the SIC and asked it to rehear it after it was "properly constituted".

 

The points that come to my 'non legal' mind:

 

1) The high courts do not mind an information commission which is not 'properly constituted' if the other alternative is chaos. May be therefore, the governments there have not bothered to appoint more ICs and solve the technical issue.

 

2) In WB, anyone willing to move highcourt can avoid any SIC order against it - there is a strong precedence to quote

 

3) In Goa, because governor could not constitute SIC properly, the governor escapes from providing info under RTI!

 

4) If tomorrow all decisions of an SIC are declared null and void, and someone files a PIL claiming that the govt has 'wasted' public money' by spending on a body whose decisions are null and void, there will mo another angle to the 'chaos'.

 

5) Not sure weather the confusion over constitution of 'benches' of SIC is over or not. Else, all decisions in Maharashtra may be declared null and void

 

6) Even in case of central commission, almost all decisions are given by 'bench'.

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karira

3) In Goa, because governor could not constitute SIC properly, the governor escapes from providing info under RTI!

 

This goes into my diary for the future book on "RTI Humour" !

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Sajib Nandi

Guv office files plea before HC

 

As reported by timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Nov 26, 2011:

Guv office files plea before HC - The Times of India

 

PANAJI: The governor's office has approached the high court of Bombay at Goa seeking a stay of its November 14 judgment which ruled that the governor is a public authority under the Right to Information Act.

 

In his plea, the special secretary to the Goa governor, N Radhakrishnan, has sought a stay for a period of 30 days and stated that the government has decided to challenge the high court verdict before the Supreme Court by filing a special leave petition.

 

The petition is posted for hearing on Monday before a division bench comprising Justice A P Lavande and Justice U V Bakre.

 

The applicant has submitted that if the stay of the judgment is not granted, the applicant shall suffer loss and great prejudice as the applicant will be compelled to give information under the RTI Act. "If no stay of the judgment is granted, the special leave petition to be filed before the Supreme Court will be rendered infructuous," the applicant has stated.

 

The petition follows a legal notice served earlier this week by advocate Aires Rodrigues demanding that all the information sought by him through his 15 applications under the RTI Act, which are pending at the Raj Bhavan, be furnished to him within seven days.

 

On November 14, the high court of Bombay at Goa held that the governor would not be able to claim sovereign immunity from disclosing information under RTI in respect of non-sovereign functions.

 

The court gave the judgment on a petition challenging the order of the Goa state information commission (GSIC), which directed the public information officer of the governor's secretariat to furnish opposition leader Manohar Parrikar with a copy of the report sent by the governor of Goa to the Union home ministry on the political situation in 2007.

 

Earlier, the governor's office had taken a stand before the high court that the GSIC has no power to issue any direction to the governor to disclose any information.

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karira

As reported by UNI in newkerala.com on 26 Nov 2011:

Governor's petition for stay of RTI judgement opposed [newKerala.com News # 114552]

 

Governor's petition for stay of RTI judgement opposed

 

Panaji, Nov 26 : The petition filed by Goa Governor K Sankaranarayanan, seeking a stay of the High Court judgement, ruling that he was a Public Authority and came under the ambit of the Right to Information Act, has been strongly opposed by Advocate Aires Rodrigues.

 

 

The Governor's petition will be heard on Monday by a Division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising Justices A P Lavande and U V Bakre.

 

In his Affidavit filed in response to the Governor's petition, Adv Rodrigues has stated that it was misconceived and that he was not entitled to any stay.

 

Stating that the judgment by the High Court has already been delivered and was now operative, Adv Rodrigues has mentioned that the question of seeking a stay now does not arise as no attempt was made to seek a stay when the judgment was pronounced on November 14, though the Advocate for the Governor was present when the judgment was pronounced.

 

Adv Rodrigues has also stated that now a different bench of the High Court could not stay a judgment, which had already become operative.

 

Stating that the High Court had in a well considered and detailed judgment held that the Governor of Goa was a Public Authority, Adv Rodrigues further said that such a judgment cannot be stayed merely on the ground that the Governor desires to move the Supreme Court.

 

Adv Rodrigues has also submitted that the Governor has to comply with the RTI Act and that no prejudice would be caused to the Governor, if he furnishes the information sought as required by law.

 

Stating that the petition by the Goa Raj Bhavan has been filed malafiedly and without application of mind, Adv Rodrigues has sought that the High Court dismiss the Goa Governor’s petition by imposing heavy and exemplary costs.

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Sajib Nandi

HC judge recuses from hearing governor's plea

 

As reported by timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Nov 29, 2011:

HC judge recuses from hearing governor's plea - The Times of India

 

 

PANAJI: A judge of the high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday recused from the hearing of an application filed by the governor of Goa seeking a stay of the RTI judgment in order to approach the Supreme Court.

 

On November 14, the high court had ruled that a copy of the report sent by the governor to the President (through the Union home minister) under Article 356(1) of the Constitution of India is not exempt from disclosure under Section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act. Under the RTI Act, opposition leader Manohar Parrikar had sought a copy of the report that was sent regarding the political situation in Goa from July 24 to August 14, 2007.

 

When the application came up before a division bench of the court, Justice A P Lavande said, "Not before me."

 

The matter would now have to be placed before another bench. The applicant will now have to approach the chief justice of the Bombay high court for reconstituting a special bench to hear the application.

 

In his application, N Radhakrishnan, special secretary to the governor of Goa, had sought a stay of the high court judgment for a period of 30 days as the governor has decided to challenge it before the Supreme Court by filing a special leave petition.

 

The applicant has submitted that if the stay of the judgment is not granted, the applicant shall suffer loss and great prejudice as the applicant will be compelled to furnish the information under the RTI Act.

 

The high court had held that the governor would not be able to claim sovereign immunity from disclosing information under RTI in respect of non-sovereign functions.

 

The court also ruled that the governor of Goa fell within the scope of a 'public authority' as defined under the Right to Information Act (RTI) Act, 2005.

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RAVEENA_O

Guv moves SC against HC ruling in RTI case

 

 

As reported by Times of India, Goa on Dec 4, 2011

Guv moves SC against HC ruling in RTI case - The Times of India

 

PANAJI: The Goa governor's office has filed a special leave petition before the Supreme Court of India challenging the judgment of the high court of Bombay at Goa which had ruled that the Goa governor was a public authority and came within the ambit of the RTI Act.

The petition is filed by the special secretary to Goa governor N Radhakrishnan and the governor is likely to be represented by additional solicitor general of India Vivek Tankha, who had argued in the high court of Bombay at Goa in the same matter.

Social activist Aires Rodrigues said he has filed a caveat in the Supreme Court and added that he would strongly oppose the Goa governor's petition before the Supreme Court.

On November 14 this year, a division bench of the high court of Bombay at Goa upheld the decision of the state chief information commissioner Motilal Keny that the Goa governor was a "public authority" and came under the ambit of Right to Information Act.

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RAVEENA_O

Will guv appear before GSIC?

 

As reported in timesofindia.com on Jan 4, 2011

Will guv appear before GSIC? - The Times of India

 

PANAJI: All eyes will be on whether Goa governor S S Sidhu will appear before the Goa State Information Commission ( GSIC) when the Right to Information (RTI) Act case against him comes up for hearing on Tuesday.

 

While he has been summoned to appear before the commission's Patto office in Panaji at 10.30am, the Raj Bhavan plays host to the first lady of the country-President Pratibha Patil.

 

Efforts to elicit a comment from the Raj Bhavan proved futile.

 

The notice sent by the commission to the governor reads: "You are required to appear before this commission in person and not to depart hence without leave of the commission and you are hereby warned that if you shall, without just excuse, neglect or refuse to appear on the aforesaid date and time, the complaint will be decided in your absence."

 

The commission has also directed special secretary to the governor, N Radhakrishnan to remain present for the hearing.

 

About 10 days ago, Goa State Information Commission issued a notice to the governor directing him to personally appear before the commission's Shramshakti Bhavan office on January 4 at 10.30am. This was in connection with the complaint filed against him by RTI activist Aires Rodrigues.

 

Rodrigues filed the case against Sidhu after the Raj Bhavan took a stand that the governor is not a "Public Authority" as defined in the transparency law, and does not come within the purview of the RTI Act.

 

The social activist on November 29, had sought information in a case related to action taken against advocate general (AG) Subodh Kantak. He had also sought copies of noting sheets and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the AG.

 

On November 30, Radhakrishnan wrote to Rodrigues refusing to furnish the information saying the governor of Goa was not a public authority.

 

Rodrigues then moved the Goa State Information Commission, headed by Motilal Keny, a retired sessions judge from Mumbai.

 

Rodrigues said he was refused information under the RTI Act on grounds that the governor wasn't a public authority and didn't come within the purview of the Act. He further held that the office of the governor was a constitutional post within the definition of "public authority" under Section 2 (h) (a) of the RTI Act.

 

Meanwhile, PWD personnel were seen resoling the Patto road leading to Shramshakti Bhavan on Monday.

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RAVEENA_O

Goa Raj Bhavan files SLP challenging HC verdict

 

As reported in the thehindu.com on 04 Dec, 2011

The Hindu : NATIONAL / KARNATAKA : Goa Raj Bhavan files SLP challenging HC verdict

It had ruled that the Goa Governor is a public authority

 

The Goa Raj Bhavan has filed a Special Leave Petition (SLP) before the Supreme Court of India challenging the judgment of the Bombay High Court Bench in Goa which had ruled that the Goa Governor was a public authority and came within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The SLP filed by the Special Secretary to Goa Governor N. Radhakrishnan is scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court on December 12.

Ruling

The State Chief Information Commissioner Motilal Keny on March 31 this year had ruled that the Goa Governor was a “Public Authority” and did come within the ambit of the RTI. This was upheld by a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa by a judgment pronounced on November 14 which ruled that the Raj Bhavan Secretariat was bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.

Meanwhile, Justice F.M. Reis of the Bombay High Court at Goa on Friday adjourned to December 15 a Contempt of Court petition filed by Mr. Aires Rodrigues against Mr. Radhakrishnan, Special Secretary to the Governor of Goa for not furnishing information under the RTI Act despite the High Court verdict.

In a legal notice earlier served on Goa Raj Bhavan the activist lawyer had demanded that all the information sought by him through his 15 applications under the RTI Act which are pending at Raj Bhavan be furnished to him within seven days.

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ganpat1956

Goa moves SC against bringing Article 356 report under RTI Act

 

By : Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Dec 8, 2011, 03.26AM IST

 

NEW DELHI: The Goa government has moved the Supreme Court challenging an order of Bombay High Court's Goa bench bringing governor's report to the Centre about the political situation in a state under the ambit of Right to Information Act, a decision that created major legal discomfort in the corridors of power.

 

The appeal by Goa government, which has also sought a stay on the November 14 HC verdict, is listed for mentioning before the SC on Thursday. The HC's decision to make available governor's report to applicants under RTI Act had perceived repercussions as the Union Cabinet headed by the prime minister relies on the secret report sent by the head of a state to the President as a precursor to action under Article 356 of the Constitution for imposition of central rule.

 

The Goa government's appeal challenged the decision saying the governor was not a public authority under the RTI Act as he was the formal and constitutional head of the government. "Therefore, the governor does not perform routine functions of governance, which are left to the various ministries/departments of the government," it said.

 

It added that the immunity granted to the governor under Article 361 of the Constitution was absolute and he was not answerable to any court "for the performance of his powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties".

 

Therefore it was contradictory to argue that a governor was not answerable to constitutional courts but he was to be held answerable to a statutory authority under the RTI Act, the Goa government said.. "Such a situation would be an aberration to the constitutional scheme, and would render nugatory the whole purpose of Article 361," it added.

 

The case began with BJP leader Manohar Parrikar seeking a copy of the Goa governor's report to the Union home minister regarding the political situation in the state during the period July 24-August 14, 2007. But the governor's principal information officer declined to provide the same under RTI Act. However, the Goa State Information Commission directed Raj Bhawan to provide the report to Parrikar. The PIO appealed against it before the Goa bench.

 

A division bench of Justices D G Karnik and D M Reis had said, "It must be held that the governor cannot claim an exemption under clause (e) of sub-clause (1) of Section 8 of the RTI Act in respect of disclosure of a report made by him under Article 356 of the Constitution."

 

Source: Goa moves SC against bringing Article 356 report under RTI Act - The Times of India

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dr.s.malhotra

SC stays HC order on disclosure under RTI of governor's report to President

Dhananjay Mahapatra, TNN | Dec 8, 2011, 02.59PM IST

SC stays HC order on disclosure under RTI of governor's report to President - The Times of India

 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed further action pursuant to a high court order bringing the governor under the ambit of RTI Act.

 

A governor's report to the Centre on political situation in a state cannot be kept secret if an application has been made for its disclosure under RTI, the Goa bench of Bombay high court had ruled last month, in a judgement that could cause great discomfort to the Union government.

 

"The Governor or Public Information Officer (PIO) in his office cannot claim immunity from disclosure of any information under RTI Act," a division bench of the court observed on November 14.

 

The bench comprising Justices D G Karnik and F M Reis made the observation while disposing of two petitions, including one that challenged an order of an appellate authority asking the PIO to disclose a report sent by governor to the Union Home Ministry on the political situation in the state in 2007.

 

A governor's report forms the basis of important decisions by the Centre in respect of states, including bringing it under President's rule.

 

Conceding that under Article 361 of the Constitution, the governor enjoys complete immunity and is not answerable to any court in exercise and performance of the powers and duties of his office, the bench said it does not take away the powers of the court to examine the validity of his actions including on the ground of malafides.

 

"Governor is not sovereign and sovereignty does not vest in him. The contention that by reason of he being sovereign no direction can be issued to the Governor for disclosure of any information under RTI Act, cannot be accepted".

 

Holding that the relationship between the President and the governor is not fiduciary, the judges said "Consequently, the information sought by Manohar Parrikar, the then leader of opposition in Goa state assembly, ie copy of governor's report to the President (through the Home Minister) under Article 356(1) of the Constitution is not exempt from disclosure under section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act."

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RAVEENA_O

HC order to make public Goa governor's report to Centre stayed

 

 

As reported in dnaindia.com on Thursday, Dec 8, 2011

HC order to make public Goa governor's report to Centre stayed - India - DNA

 

 

The Supreme Court Thursday stayed the Bombay High Court order asking the Goa Raj Bhawan to make public the Governor's report to the Centre on political situation of the state during July-August 2007.

While staying the high court direction to make public the report under the Right to Information Act, a bench headed by Justice Dalveer Bhandari also halted further proceedings in the high court on the case in which the Governor's office has been declared to be under the ambit of transparency law.

The court passed the order on an appeal filed by Goa government challenging the high court's decision and contending that the Governor's office does not fall under the purview of the RTI Act and the confidential report to the Centre cannot be made public.

While staying the order, the apex court bench, also comprising justices T S Thakur and Dipak Misra, said the state has raised an important question of law, which needs to be "examined".

The Goa government has challenged the decision saying the Governor was not a public authority under the RTI Act as he was the formal and constitutional head of the government.

The case began with BJP leader Manohar Parrikar seeking from the Goa Raj Bhawan under the RTI Act a copy of the Governor's report to the Union Home Minister on the political situation in the state during July 24-August 14, 2007.

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RAVEENA_O

Stay on HC order bringing Goa Governor under RTI Act

 

As reported by J. Venkatasen in thehindu.com on 08 Dec, 2011

The Hindu : News / National : Stay on HC order bringing Goa Governor under RTI Act

 

The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed the orders of the Goa Bench of Bombay High Court which held that the Governor of Goa was a public authority and would come within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The High Court had held that the Governor enjoyed no immunity from the RTI Act and that the Public Information Officer at the Raj Bhavan was duty-bound to furnish information sought under the Act. The High Court also asked the Raj Bhavan to make public the Governor's report to the Centre on the political situation in the State during July-August 2007.

A three-judge Bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari, T.S. Thakur and Dipak Misra stayed the orders on an appeal filed by the State of Goa against the High Court orders dated November 14. Pointing out that important questions of law had been raised in this appeal, the Bench said it would examine them and directed the matter to be listed after six weeks.

'High Court erred'

In the appeal, Goa said the High Court had erred in not considering that Governor “is not a ‘public authority' for the purposes of the RTI Act.”

The High Court had not considered that in “our constitutional democracy, it is the consolidated will of the people, as the Constitution which is the sovereign, and the high constitutional offices of the President and the Governor of State, manifest the sovereign, through whom and under whose name, the authority vests.”

The High Court had failed to consider that under Article 361 of the Constitution immunity was granted to the Governor and he was not answerable to any court or authority in exercise and performance of his power.”

“Not subordinate”

Further it must be noted that Governor was not subordinate to any other entity under the Constitution, and not an ‘authority', but rather the manifestation of the State itself. Any information which is received by the Governor is deemed to be available with the corresponding department/ministry of the State government, since the Governor is the appointing authority of the State Information Commissioner and as he is also vested with the power to recommend for removal, the Governor's office could not be made subservient by bringing it under the ambit of RTI Act.

The State sought quashing of the impugned orders and an interim stay of all further proceedings.

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Atul Patankar

As reported at timesofindia.indiatimes.com on Dec 9, 2011

 

Goa governor not under RTI, says SC

 

NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed all proceedings against the Goa governor under Right to Information Act pursuant to a Bombay High Court Goa bench ruling that the governor's communications to the Union government came under the ambit of the transparency law.

 

A bench of Justices Dalveer Bhandari, T S Thakur and Dipak Misra also took exception to the notice issued by the Goa information commission to the governor when additional solicitor general Vivek Tankha drew the court's attention to the intemperate language.

 

"Do not bring down the dignity of the institutions. Unless you protect the dignity of the office, it will create problems in a democracy," the bench said while staying all proceedings resulting from the HC verdict.

 

The apex court did not stay the November 14 judgment of the Goa bench of Bombay HC mainly because respondent Manohar Parrikar's counsel Manoj Goel said his client would not press for contempt in case the governor's office refused to implement the HC directions. SC asked Parrikar to file his response to Goa government's appeal in two weeks.

 

The HC's decision to make available governor's report to applicants under RTI Act had perceived repercussions as the Union Cabinet headed by the prime minister relies on the secret report sent by the head of a state to the President as a precursor to action under Article 356 of the Constitution for imposition of central rule.

 

The Goa government's appeal challenged the decision, saying the governor was not a public authority under the RTI Act as he was the formal and constitutional head of the government. "The governor does not perform routine functions of governance, which are left to the various ministries/departments of the government," Tankha argued.

 

He added that the immunity granted to the governor under Article 361 of the Constitution was absolute and he was not answerable to any court "for the performance of his powers and duties of his office or for any act done or purporting to be done in the exercise and performance of those powers and duties".

 

Therefore, it was contradictory to argue that a governor was not answerable to constitutional courts but he was to be held answerable to a statutory authority under the RTI Act, the Goa government said. "Such a situation would be an aberration to the constitutional scheme, and would render nugatory the whole purpose of Article 361," it added.

 

The case began with BJP leader Manohar Parrikar seeking a copy of the Goa governor's report to the Union home minister regarding the political situation in the state during the period July 24-August 14, 2007. But the governor's principal information officer declined to provide the same under RTI Act. However, the Goa State Information Commission directed Raj Bhawan to provide the report to Parrikar. The PIO appealed against it before the Goa bench.

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Atul Patankar

The title is completely misleading. The Supreme Court has said nothing of the sort. It has just stayed the High Courts decision, and agreed to hear all the parties.

 

Moreover, there is no political mileage to be achieved by misleading the readers. If secularism was at stake, I can understand Times of India doing this. But here? So it seems this is a case of plain ignorance of the court procedure

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karira

Moreover, there is no political mileage to be achieved by misleading the readers.

 

You are highly mistaken......this is a pure political battle. Not a legal battle at all.

But all political parties will be on the same side on this one.

The battle is for disclosure of Governors report to the Centre - can it be disclosed or not ?

 

If the SC allows disclosure of the report, no Central Govt. will ever be able to "threaten", or "dismiss" or impose presidents Rules under article 356 - because as everyone well knows how these reports are cooked up.

 

Someone in AP got a copy of the report sent by AP Governor to the Centre at the height of the recent Telengana agitation. You read the contents - you will ROTFWL ! His "report" of the serious situation was based on Newspaper clippings.

 

The Government will fight this case tooth and nail in the SC. If they lose, I am 100% sure about an amendment in the RTI Act, exempting "Constitutional" authorities from the purview of RTI.

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Atul Patankar
You are highly mistaken......this is a pure political battle. Not a legal battle at all.

 

Yes sir. I stand corrected. I was thinking of political mileage to ToI. But as you explain, it is very clear that the title was chosen very carefully.

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karira

As reported by UNI in indianlawnews.com on 04 April 2012:

IndlawNews

 

SC to decide on RTI Act in Goa today

 

3.4.2012 (UNI) Supreme Court will hear the Special Leave Petition (SLP), filed by state Raj Bhavan, challenging the judgment of the Bombay High Court at Goa pertaining to the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

 

A division bench comprising Justices Dalveer Bhandari and Dipak Mishra will hear two petitions filed by the Goa Governor K Sankaranarayanan challenging the judgment of the Bombay High Court at Goa which while holding that Goa Governor was a public authority had directed the Raj Bhavan to furnish Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar and city-based social activist and lawyer Aires Rodrigues to provide information sought by them under the RTI Act.

 

The Bombay High Court at Goa in a landmark 58-page judgment had clearly ruled that the Governor of Goa was a public authority and was bound to furnish information sought under the RTI Act.

 

Mr Parrikar had sought a copy of Goa Governor's report to the Union Home Minister P Chidambaram regarding the political situation in the state during the period between July 24 and August 14, 2007.

 

While, Mr Rodrigues had sought from Raj Bhavan details of the action taken by the Governor on the complaints filed by him against the then Advocate General of Goa Subodh Kantak. Mr Rodrigues had also sought copies of noting sheets pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the then Advocate General.

 

The Goa Raj Bhavan, however, took a stand that the Governor was not a public authority and did not come under the purview of the RTI Act.

 

After hearing a complaint filed by Mr Rodrigues, the state Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Motilal Keny on March 31 last year had ruled that the Governor was a 'Public Authority' and did come within the ambit of the RTI Act.

 

That decision was upheld by the Bombay High Court at Goa.

 

Incidentally, when every other Governor across the country and even the President are complying with the RTI Act, the Goa Raj Bhavan over the last five years has chosen to avoid furnishing information under the RTI Act on the grounds that the state Governor was not a public authority.

 

The apex court has already issued notice to the Attorney General of India in this regard.

 

The verdict of the Supreme Court will have far-reaching effects on the RTI Act, as if it rules in favour of Goa Raj Bhavan, all other Raj Bhavans and even the Rastrapathi Bhavan may stop complying with the RTI Act.

 

Mr Sankaranarayanan who is also holding the additional charge as Governor of Maharashtra, is known to comply with the RTI Act but ironically, he has refused to comply with the Act in Goa. UNI

 

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karira

The matter was postponed by 2 weeks.

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