Panaji: A Governor`s report to the Centre
on political situation in a state cannot be kept secret if an
application has been made for its disclosure under RTI, the
Goa bench of Bombay High Court has ruled, in a judgement that
could cause great discomfort to the Union government.
"The Governor or Public Information Officer (PIO) in
his office cannot claim immunity from disclosure of any
information under RTI Act," a division bench of the court
observed on November 14.
The bench comprising Justices D G Karnik and F M Reis
made the observation while disposing of two petitions,
including one that challenged an order of an appellate
authority asking the PIO to disclose a report sent by Governor
to the Union Home Ministry on the political situation in the
state in 2007.
A Governor`s report forms the basis of important
decisions by the Centre in respect of states, including
bringing it under President`s rule.
Conceding that under Article 361 of the Constitution,
the Governor enjoys complete immunity and is not answerable to
any Court in exercise and performance of the powers and duties
of his office, the bench said it does not take away the powers
of the court to examine the validity of his actions including
on the ground of malafides.
"Governor is not sovereign and sovereignty does not
vest in him. The contention that by reason of he being
sovereign no direction can be issued to the Governor for
disclosure of any information under RTI Act, cannot be
Holding that the relationship between the President
and the Governor is not fiduciary, the judges said
"Consequently, the information sought by Manohar Parrikar, the
then leader of opposition in Goa state assembly, ie copy of
Governor`s report to the President (through the Home Minister)
under Article 356(1) of the Constitution is not exempt from
disclosure under section 8(1)(e) of the RTI Act."