Secretary of Goa Legislature Secretariat and First Appellate Authority under the RTI Act Namrata Ulman today failed to remain present before Chief Information Commissioner (CIC) Vishwas Satarkar for the hearing of the petition filed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues against the order passed by her on 29th August rejecting his appeal against the order of the Public Information Officer (PIO) Mohan Gaonkar declining to furnish information sought by him under RTI Act.
Namrata Ulman sent a letter authorising Legislature Joint Secretary Hercules Noronha to appear, represent and argue on her behalf which was strongly opposed by Adv. Aires Rodrigues who submitted that the First Appellate Authority had to appear and argue in person or through an Advocate but could not delegate that power to a colleague. PIO Mohan Gaonkar who remained present sought two weeks’ time to appoint a lawyer to represent him.
While directing the Goa Legislature Secretariat officials to file their reply to the appeal filed by Adv. Rodrigues, CIC Vishwas Satarkar adjourned the matter to October 14 while allowing Adv. Rodrigues to file his formal objection to Hercules Noronha representing Namrata Ulman.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues in his appeal challenging the order passed by Namrata Ulman while pointing out that it was illegal, perverse, bad and contrary to law, has stated that the RTI Act was intended to furnish information and not to deny it.
Stating that the veil of secrecy at the Goa Legislature Secretariat was unlawful and unacceptable, Adv. Rodrigues has further submitted that 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.
Stating that the denial of information was illegal, untenable and a fraud, Adv. Rodrigues has also submitted that the grounds used to refuse the information was a total ruse and that the unjustifiable grounds to wrongly deny information were unsustainable.
Adv. Aires Rodrigues on June 28th had sought a copy of the file notings and correspondence pertaining to the two day training workshop for MLAs held on 27th and 28th June at the Taj Vivanta and also complete details of the expenditure incurred on the event.
The PIO Mohan Gaonkar, in his reply informed Adv. Rodrigues that the disclosure of the information would cause breach of Privilege of State Legislature and would also be against Rule 37(16) of the Rules of Conduct of Business of Goa Legislative Assembly.