Governor not in RTI ambit? Court asks for affidavit

The Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court Monday asked the Goa governor to state on oath that he, the president of India and speakers of state assemblies have no executive powers and duties, giving them a shield against the transparency law.

The division bench of Justice S.A. Bobde and Justice F.M. Reis issued the direction to Additional Solicitor General Vivek Tankha, appearing for the Goa governor.

Tankha earlier said that the governor, the president and assembly speakers did not come under the purview of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

The court was hearing an appeal of the Goa Raj Bhavan against the state chief information commissioner’s (CIC) ruling earlier this year that the office of the governor was a public authority covered under the transparency law.

The Raj Bhavan said the governor was not a “public authority”.The governor’s office contended that the Goa State Information Commission had not been properly constituted and that the CIC could not have heard the matter in the absence of another information commissioner.

Notice to government on plea for appointments in RTI ambit

The Delhi High Court Monday sought the central government’s response on a petition challenging a single judge’s ruling that information pertaining to the appointment of top bureaucrats cannot be revealed under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

A division bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justice Sanjiv Khanna issued notice to the department of personnel and training (DOPT) and sought its reply by July 14 on an appeal filed by RTI activist and Magsaysay Award winner Arvind Kejriwal against the single judge’s order, given in July 2010.

Kejriwal had requested the government to provide him the information on the ground that people had the right to know the grade assigned to an officer who was empanelled.

In his petition, he said that he was allowed to inspect files pertaining to appointment of secretaries, deputy secretaries in different ministries but he was not supplied with photocopies of the documents.

Kejriwal had approached the Central Information Commission (CIC) which had rejected the the government’s argument that the disclosure would amount to invasion in the privacy of an officer, and June 12, 2008 asked the DOPT and the cabinet secretariat to disclose details pertaining to selection of officers for the posts of secretaries and additional secretaries.

However, the central government approached the Delhi High Court against the CIC’s order.

The single judge had set aside the order and rejected Kejriwal’s plea that information relating to appointment of secretaries in different ministries falls within the ambit of the transparency law and justice.

‘This court holds that the CIC was not justified in overruling the objection of the centre and directing the government and the DoPT to provide copies of the documents as sought by Kejriwal,’ the single judge had said.