NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Thursday stayed all subsequent proceedings arising out of the Bombay High Court order asking the Goa Raj Bhawan to make public the Governor’s report to the Centre on the political situation of the state during July-August 2007.
“All further proceedings remains stayed,” a bench headed by Mr Justice Dalveer Bhandari said while asking the former chief minister and BJP leader, Mr Manohar Parrikar and others to respond to the notice on an appeal filed by the Goa government challenging the High Court’s decision.
The apex court posted the next hearing after six weeks on the petition in which the state government has challenged High Court’s direction to make public the report under the Right to Information Act.
After the High Court verdict, a petition by Goa-based advocate Mr Aires Rodrigues was also filed seeking contempt action against the Raj Bhavan for not complying with its order.
The additional solicitor general, Mr Vivek Tankha sought stay of all subsequent proceedings including the contempt, which was granted by the bench.
The court passed the order on an appeal filed by the Goa government challenging the High Court’s decision contending the Governor’s office does not fall under the purview of the RTI Act and the confidential report to the Centre cannot be made public.
The apex court bench, also comprising Mr Justice T S Thakur and Mr Justice Dipak Misra, said the state has raised an important question of law, which needs to be “examined”.
The Goa government has challenged the decision saying the Governor was not a public authority under the RTI Act as he was the formal and constitutional head of the government.
The case began with Mr Parrikar seeking from the Goa Raj Bhawan under the RTI Act a copy of the Governor’s report to the Union Home Minister on the political situation in the state during July 24-August 14, 2007.
The Governor’s principal information officer, however, declined to provide the same under the RTI Act but the Goa state information commission, on an appeal by Mr Parrikar, directed the Raj Bhawan to provide the report to him.
The Governor’s PIO moved the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court against the state information commission’s order. But the High Court too upheld the information commission’s order.
The division bench of the High Court had on November 14 said, “It must be held that the Governor cannot claim an exemption under clause (e) of sub-clause (1) of Section 8 of the RTI Act in respect of disclosure of a report made by him under Article 356 of the Constitution.”
The decision of the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court to make public the Governor’s report to applicants under RTI Act has legal and political repercussions as the Union cabinet headed by the Prime Minister relies on the report sent by the Governor to the President as a precursor to action under Article 356 of the Constitution for imposition of central rule.