HIGH COURT DIRECTS A S TO FILE AFFIDAVIT WHY THE OFFICES OF THE PRESIDENT OF INDA, GOVERNOR AND SPEAKER NOT FALL WITHIN RTI

PANJIM: The high court of Bombay at Goa on Monday directed the additional solicitor general of India, Vivek Tankha, to file an affidavit explaining how the offices of the president of India, governor and speaker do not fall within the scope of 'public authority' as defined under the Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005.
While arguing on a petition filed by N Radhakrishnan, special secretary to Goa governor S S Sidhu, Tankha questioned the order passed by the Goa state information commission, which held that the governor's office was a public authority.
The commission had passed the order on a plea filed by activist Aires Rodrigues under the RTI Act.  The RTI Act states that an applicant has the right to access information which is held by or under the control of any public authority.
Tankha contended, "The 'public authority', as defined under Section 2 (h) (a) of the RTI Act, does not include the offices of the president of India, governor, speaker, chief justice of the Supreme Court as well as the high courts."  "The office of the governor does not come within the administrative domain, as it does not have any administrative functions. It's not a ministry," he held.  At this point, a division bench comprising Justices S Bobde and F M Reis directed the additional solicitor general to submit an affidavit explaining how the offices are not public authority as defined under the Act.
The court also asked how the offices cannot be said to have any executive powers and duties to comply with.  Earlier, Rodrigues, an advocate, argued that even the president of India has complied with the provisions of the RTI Act.  "S S Sidhu is the only governor in the country who has not complied with the RTI Act, by claiming that he is not a 'public authority'," Rodrigues alleged.
He prayed that the petition should be disposed of as soon as possible as the RTI Act has remained "grounded" for the last three years as far as the governor's office is concerned.  Rodrigues had sought information under RTI from the governor's office about details of the action taken against state advocate general Subodh Kantak on complaints filed by him.

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