Governor not beyond RTI scope: Bombay HC

The judgment pronounced via video-conferencing between Justice D G Karnik sitting in Mumbai and Justice F M Reis in Panaji brings to an end a year-long stand-off between an activist lawyer and the Goa Raj Bhavan over his application for documents under RTI.

In December last year, the Goa Raj Bhavan under former governor S S Sidhu turned down an RTI application from lawyer Aires Rodrigues on the contention that the governor was not a public authority and therefore exempt from the purview of the RTI Act. The lawyer went on to appeal before the Goa State Information Commissioner who said the governor was bound to comply with the RTI Act.

The Goa Raj Bhavan, however, challenged the order in the High Court and argued that the constitution of the state information commission was flawed. Though the High Court agreed that the commission had not been properly constituted, it said the governor is a public authority as defined under the RTI Act 2005.

Curiously, the Raj Bhavans of Goa and Maharashtra had taken conflicting positions on the issue. Maharashtra Governor K Sankaranarayanan, who also holds additional charge as Governor of Goa after Sidhu’s departure, has entertained RTI applications in Maharashtra, but turned them down in Goa in the last few months.

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