Goa State Chief Information Commissioner (GSCIC) Vishwas Satarkar, who also happens to be a former Speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly, has lifted that veil of secrecy in which the Goa Legislature Secretariat was shrouded in.
In his 15 page order the GSCIC has observed that the Goa Legislature Secretariat had denied information under the RTI Act on a wrong footing which was not sustainable. Referring to the denial of information citing exemption under Section 8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act, the GSCIC observed that Parliament and State Legislatures are not excluded from the applicability of the RTI Act. Further observing that the information had nothing to do with the Speaker’s parliamentary functions, the GSCIC directed that the information be furnished free of cost.
The information sought was a copy of the file notings and correspondence pertaining to the two day training workshop for MLAs held on 27th and 28th June last year at the Taj Vivanta with complete details of the expenditure incurred on the event.
While denying the information, the Public Information Officer (PIO) of the Legislature Secretariat had stated that the disclosure of the information was exempted under Sec8 (1) (c) of the RTI Act and Rule 37(16) of the Rules of Conduct of Business of Goa Legislative Assembly. The PIO’s reply was upheld by the First Appellate Authority who is the Legislature Secretary.
The skewed stand taken by the Legislature Secretariat was illegal, perverse, bad and contrary to law as the RTI Act was intended to furnish information and not to deny it. That veil of secrecy at the Legislature Secretariat was unlawful and unacceptable. Parliament enacted the RTI Act keeping in mind the rights of an informed citizenry in which transparency of information was vital in curbing corruption and making the Government and its instrumentalities accountable.