Citizens' Issues
Goa Governor eats humble pie; High Court says he also comes under RTI Act

Governor K Sankaranarayanan, who is complying with the RTI Act in Maharashtra refused to comply with the same in Goa (as he hold both posts) like his predecessor Dr Sidhu. The High Court, in a judgment on 14th November, however declared that the Governor does come under the ambit of the RTI Act in Goa as well

In a major embarrassment to the Goa Raj Bhavan, the Bombay High Court at Goa on Monday ruled that the Governor of Goa is a public authority and come within the ambit of the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
 
Pronouncing the much-awaited judgment on 14th November, the High Court held that the Governor enjoyed no immunity from the RTI Act and the public information officer (PIO) at the Goa Raj Bhavan is duty bound to furnish information sought under the Act.
 
Earlier in August, a Division Bench of the Bombay High Court at Goa comprising Justice DG Karnik and Justice FM Reis had reserved the judgment after hearing final arguments in the petition filed by Goa Raj Bhavan.  
 
The Governor of Goa had refused to furnish information sought by Adv Aires Rodrigues under the RTI Act claiming that he is not a "public authority".
 
Adv Rodrigues had sought details of action taken by the Governor on the complaints filed by him against the Goa's Advocate General Subodh Kantak, under the RTI Act. Adv Rodrigues had also sought copies of noting sheets and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the Advocate General.
 
The Goa Raj Bhavan in its petition before the High Court had contended that the Governor not being a "public authority" does not come within the purview of the RTI Act. The Raj Bhavan had also contended that the Goa State Information Commission had not been properly constituted and that the State Chief Information Commissioner (SCIC) could not have heard matters in the absence of another Information Commissioner.
 
Motilal Keny, SCIC of Goa, on 31st March, had ruled that the Goa Governor was a "public authority" and did come within the ambit of the RTI Act.
 
The High Court in its order however held that the Goa State Information Commission has to be a multi-member body and could not function with just the Chief Information Commissioner (CIC).
 
Former Chief Justice of India JS Verma, who was also former Governor had publicly opined that the Goa Governor was a public authority and did come within the ambit of the RTI Act. A similar view was also strongly expressed by noted RTI Activist Aruna Roy while she was in Goa last month.
 
Mr Sankaranarayanan took over as Governor of Goa in September 2011. Ironically, he has been complying with the RTI Act as Governor of Maharashtra (as he holds this post too) but in Goa like his predecessor Dr SS Sidhu, he refused to comply by the Act.

This was evident when Adv Rodrigues sought details of total expenditure incurred in 2011 by the Goa Governor's official and their unofficial visits out of the state. He was also denied information when he asked details of President of India, Pratibha Patil's visit to Goa in January this year, which the Goa Governor's declared as a personal visit. However, when Adv Rodrigues asked for the same information under RTI from the Governor of Maharashtra's office, he got detailed answers which proved that the President indeed had been on an official visit and Rs15 lakh were spent from the taxpayers' money.
 
Box:

Chronology of the case

 
29 November 2010: Adv Rodrigues had sought information from Goa Raj Bhavan under RTI, details of action taken on the complaints made by him to the Governor of Goa against Advocate General of Goa  Subodh Kantak. He had also sought copies of file notings and correspondence pertaining to the processing of his complaints against the Advocate General.

30 November 2010: Goa Raj Bhavan refused to furnish the information sought.

21 December 2010: Adv Rodrigues filed a complaint against the Raj Bhavan with the State Information Commission
 
22 December 2010: State Information Commission sent a notice directing the then Governor Dr SS Sidhu to personally appear before the State Chief Information Commissioner on 4 January 2011.
 
23 December 2010: Adv Rodrigues filed a caveat before the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court against Governor Dr Sidhu anticipating that he might move the High Court against the notice issued to him by the Goa State Information Commission (GSIC) directing him to personally appear before the GSIC in connection with a complaint filed against him for not complying with the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

31 March 2011: Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Motilal Keny held that Governor is a Public Authority and should furnish information sought by Adv Rodrigues
 
22 April 2011: Governor of Goa Dr Sidhu took his battle against the Right to Information Act to the Bombay High Court.
 
August 2011: The Bench of the Bombay High Court comprising Justice DG Karnik and Justice FM Reis heard the Raj Bhavan's petition for over four days and reserved the Judgment.
 
14 November 2011: Bombay High Court rules that Goa Governor's office comes under the ambit of the RTI Act.

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COMMENTS

Nagesh Kini FCA

6 years ago

There is hope in our judiciary!
Do the Governors of Goa, even the one holding concurrent charge, acquire the exhalted holier than thou on touching the sands of Goa be it Mr. Sidhu or Shankarnarayan. Can they not be hauled up for contempt?

Bankers ask Kingfisher to infuse Rs800 crore fresh equity

Bankers have made it clear that Kingfisher’s promoters will have to infuse Rs800 crore worth of fresh equity if they are to consider a second restructuring of existing debt even as opposition mounted to any bailout of the private carrier

Mumbai: A crucial board meeting of Kingfisher airlines last night finalised the financial results of the cash-strapped carrier which has been asked by its lenders to infuse Rs800 crore worth of fresh equity, reports PTI.

The airlines would on Tuesday file its financial results for the second quarter of 2011-12 approved by the board which met for over 10 hours here.

Kingfisher chief Vijay Mallya will hold a press conference here at 12 noon.

Yesterday’s meeting is understood to have discussed various options of restructuring existing debt.

There was also speculation that a rejig of the management may take place but there was no official word on this from the airline.

Bankers have made it clear that Kingfisher’s promoters will have to infuse Rs800 crore worth of fresh equity if they are to consider a second restructuring of existing debt even as opposition mounted to any bailout of the private carrier.

The bankers have asked the troubled airline to come out with a ‘credible’ plan.

The lenders—a 13-bank consortium led by State Bank of India (SBI), who were yet to decide on ways to soften the troubled airline’s Rs7,057.08 crore debt burden, are due to meet Kingfisher management here today.

“Bankers want more information on their fleet, equity, continuation of fuel supply. Banks can come in as lenders not promoter. We will respond how it unfolds,” said Pratip Chaudhuri, chairman of SBI which leads the 13-bank consortium that has financed Kingfisher.

On whether the bank will consider making fresh advances to Kingfisher, SBI managing director Hemant Contractor said, “We have to be satisfied about the viability of the company.

There is no point restructuring if the company’s operations are not going to be viable.

“We have asked them to come up with some fresh funds if the banks are to at all consider their request for restructuring. We want to see more funds coming from the company itself...” Mr Contractor said. SBI has the largest exposure to Kingfisher—Rs1,400 crore--among the lenders.

Amid the debate over bailout for Kingfisher, SpiceJet chief Neil Mills said the government should not use taxpayers’ money to revive a private sector company.

On his part, Mr Mallya said he is not seeking taxpayers’ money.

“No bailout involving taxpayers’ money. V want working capital management assistance.” he said in his latest tweet.

The debt-ridden airline continued with flight cancellations for the eighth straight day. The airline did not operate at least 40 flights on Monday.

With prime minister Manmohan Singh saying that the government would consider ways and means to help his airline come out of the crisis, Mr Mallya said in another tweet: “The Hon’ble PM is an economist and understands the importance of connectivity that goes together with economic growth. Why such debate (on bailout) then?” 

He also criticised the media for using the term ‘bailout’ and making the matter ‘so sensational’.

Amid the talk of Kingfisher seeking government assistance, Bajaj group patriarach Rahul Bajaj said on Sunday private sector should not be bailed out and ‘those who die must die”. Opposition parties including BJP and CPI-M have opposed any bailout for the private airline.

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Infosys sticks to FY11-12 revenue guidance amid Euro debt crisis

Infosys, the Bangalore-based company had lowered its guidance, with revenues expected to be in the range of $7.08-$7.20 billion, (17.1%-19.1% growth year-on-year) as against $7.13-$7.25 billion it had expected earlier

Mumbai: The country's second largest software exporter Infosys on Monday retained its guidance of 17%-19% revenue growth in FY11-12 notwithstanding the persisting Eurozone debt crisis, reports PTI.

“I hope the developments in the Eurozone area will be in an orderly fashion so that the companies can plan, unlike the 2008 crisis,” Infosys chairman Kris Gopalakrishnan told reporters here on the sidelines of the India Economic Summit 2011 yesterday.

He added that any change in guidance would be made in the next quarter results, as by early January its clients finalise their IT budgets.

Italy, which has been at the centre of the Eurozone crisis, now has its premier-designate and economist Mario Monti trying to form a new government as the nation tries to avoid financial disaster.

In Greece, Lucas Papademos has been sworn in as prime minister after his predecessor George Papandreou was forced to step down following a call for a referendum on a eurozone rescue package for the debt-laden country.

The Bangalore-based company had lowered its guidance, with revenues expected to be in the range of $7.08-$7.20 billion, (17.1%-19.1% growth year-on-year) as against $7.13-$7.25 billion it had expected earlier.

The debt crisis in Europe and the unemployment and economic uncertainties in the US are major concerns for the Indian software firms, which get more than 80% revenues from these markets.

With the uncertainties prevailing, it is expected that clients may cut discretionary spends.

Talking about expansion, Mr Gopalakrishnan said, “We are working on setting up a development centre in Indore. We are looking for a site.”

Infosys will spend Rs100 crore in the first phase and employ 5,000 people.

Infosys also said it plans to source its entire energy requirement from renewable sources in the next five years.

“Right now 20% of our energy consumption is from renewable sources, and by 2017 we want to take that to 100%. As a user of renewable energy, we want to actually drive consumption. We want to be a consumer of that,” Mr Gopalkrishnan said.

Mr Gopalkrishnan also expressed reservations about the present consumption-driven economic model and strongly advocated that the country should not follow it.

“I believe, it is not sustainable because per capita we are consuming too much power, too much water, too much resources and things like that,” he said.

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