Goa, December 10 (GCCurrentAffairs)
The Goa Raj Bhavan has filed a petition before the Supreme Court seeking that its petition filed last month against the RTI Act before the Bombay High Court at Goa be now transferred to the Supreme Court.
This was informed to Justice C.V.Bhadang of the Bombay High Court at Goa when the petition filed by Raj Bhavan claiming that it is not a Public Authority and does not come within the purview of the Right to Information Act came up for hearing today.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues submitted before Justice Bhadang that the transfer petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan was a ploy to only further circumvent the RTI Act which it had been breaching for the last decade. Judge Bhadang adjourned the matter to January 21stawaiting orders of the Supreme Court on the transfer application.
The Raj Bhavan had challenged the order passed by the Goa Chief Information Commissioner on 15th October, who while disposing a petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues had upheld the earlier orders of the Commission holding that the Goa Raj Bhavan is a Public Authority and comes within the ambit of the RTI Act.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues in a eight page reply filed before the High Court strongly opposed the Raj Bhavan petition while stating that it was most reprehensible and a red letter day to see that the Secretary to the Governor has approached the Court with an intent to stifle due enforcement of the RTI Act which is a legislation passed by Parliament with a view to bring transparency in the working of the Government both at the Centre and the State.
Pointing out that all Raj Bhavans across the country have opened their gates for freedom of Information. Adv. Rodrigues stated that the Goa Raj Bhavan has apparently forgotten that the Governor is a constitutional functionary required to act as per the constitutional mandate with total transparency and not as any colonial hangover.
Adv. Rodrigues also stated that only those who have skeletons to hide would attempt to insulate themselves by claiming privileges with their inability to free themselves from the shackles of glory which they seek to enjoy with gubernatorial positions.
Stating that all acts of Ministers are subject to scrutiny and available to the public under RTI, Adv. Rodrigues stated that there was no justification why the Governor should be shying away from furnishing information as the Governor is maintained and paid by the State Exchequer.
Alleging that the Raj Bhavan’s petition was not only an attempt to subvert the legislative intent of the RTI Act but also a brazen arrogance in not complying with the law of the country which cannot be permitted nor accepted from Constitutional functionaries, Adv. Rodrigues in his reply has sought that the petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan be dismissed with exemplary costs.
On a complaint filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues the then State Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Motilal Keny on 31st March 2011 had 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 58 page judgment pronounced 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.
Taking a stand that the Goa Governor is not a Public Authority and does not come within the ambit of the RTI Act, the Goa Raj Bhavan later challenged before the Supreme Court the Bombay High Court judgment. A Division Bench of the Supreme Court comprising of Justice Arun Mishra and Justice Amitava Roy on 30th January this year dismissed the Special Leave Petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues in his application on 19th October this year to the Public Information Officer at the Goa Raj Bhavan sought information on details of official tours and trips within India and overseas by the Governor and her family from the day she assumed office as Governor on 31st August 2014 to date and the total expenditure incurred on each of the tour and trip.
Adv. Rodrigues also sought details of the unofficial tours and trips within India and overseas by the Governor and her family from the day she assumed office as Governor on 31st August 2014 to date paid for by Goa Government or Raj Bhavan and the total expenditure incurred on each of the tour and trip.
Adv. Rodrigues further sought details of guests including VIPs, VVIPs and others who stayed at the Raj Bhavan from 31st August 2014 to date and the expenditure incurred on each such guest during their stay giving break up expenditure on stay, food, and travel.
Also sought by Adv. Rodrigues were details of vehicles purchased for the Raj Bhavan from 31st August 2014 to date and the expenditure incurred on the purchase of each of the vehicle.