SOLICITOR GENERAL OF INDIA GOPAL SUBRAMANIAM TO DEFEND GOA GOVERNOR’S PLEA AGAINST RTI

PANJIM: Beleaguered Solicitor General of India Mr. Gopal Subramaniam will on July 13th defend the Governor of Goa in his legal battle against Right to Information Act before the Bombay High Court at Goa. Adv. Aires Rodrigues will argue his case opposing the Governor’s claim for immunity from the RTI Act.
Mr. Gopal Subramaniam who is the second highest ranking law officer of the country is scheduled to arrive in Goa early Wednesday morning to argue the Governor’s case before a Division bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising of Justice S. A. Bobde and Justice F.M.Reis. The petition had to be adjourned at the last hearing as Mr. Gopal Subrananiam was busy in the Supreme Court with the 2G Scam case.
The petition filed by Goa Governor Dr. S.S.Sidhu’s Special Secretary Dr. N. Radhakrishnan challenges the 31st March order of the Goa State Information commission which had directed the Raj Bhavan to furnish Adv. Aires Rodrigues the information sought by him under the Right to Information Act.
The Goa Raj Bhavan has in its petition contended that the Governor not being a “Public Authority” does not come within the purview of the RTI Act. The Raj Bhavan has also further contended that the Goa State Information Commission has not been properly constituted and that the State Chief Information Commissioner could not hear matters in the absence of another Information Commissioner.
The State Chief Information Commissioner Mr. Motilal Keny in his order had ruled that the Goa Governor was a “Public Authority” and does come within the ambit of the Right to Information Act.  Adv. Aires Rodrigues’s complaint against Goa Governor Dr. Sidhu follows the stand taken by the Goa Raj Bhavan that the Governor was not a public authority and did not come within the purview of the RTI Act.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues had sought from Goa Raj Bhavan under the RTI Act details of action taken on his complaints to the Governor of Goa 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.
With even the President of India complying with the RTI Act, Dr. S.S.Sidhu is India’s only Governor to have taken a stand that he is not a “Public Authority” and has refused to comply with the RTI Act.
In the present RTI case before the High Court the Goa Raj Bhavan had engaged a private lawyer Mr. Mahesh Sonak bypassing Advocate General Mr. Subodh Kantak who is otherwise supposed to tender legal advice and appear on behalf of the Governor. The former Governor of Goa Mr. S.C.Jamir had even appointed a special legal advisor at Raj Bhavan sidelining Advocate General Subodh Kantak
Interestingly, Article 156 (3) of the Constitution of India mandates that every Governor shall be appointed for only a five year term. Governor Dr. S.S. Sidhu having been appointed as Governor on 6th August, 2004 his term ended on 5th August 2009. He however continues in office for the over 23 months without being re-sworn in as Governor as was required.

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