Goa Governor reverses Raj Bhavan stand: ‘will come under RTI’

Pillai, who assumed office as the Governor on July 15, was earlier Governor of Mizoram.

Goa Governor P S Sreedharan Pillai on Friday said that the Goa Raj Bhavan will be brought under the purview of the Right to Information Act. Pillai made the announcement even as a petition filed by the Goa Raj Bhavan claiming that it was not a public body is pending before the Supreme Court.

Pillai, who assumed office as the Governor on July 15, was earlier Governor of Mizoram.

“I asked for all legal files for the purpose of disposal…I had the occasion to see one or two files related to RTI Act,” said Pillai, who was a practicing lawyer in the Kerala High Court earlier. He said that the Raj Bhavan had earlier opposed being brought under the purview of RTI but he had reviewed the issue pending in the Supreme Court. He said he did not blame any of his predecessors for the position they may have taken.

“I publicly declare my policy. The Governor is bound to furnish information to people. Hereafter, RTI with respect to Raj Bhavan will be available to all citizens,” Pillai said.

He also said that he had accepted the proposal made by the Chief Minister of Goa for a new Raj Bhavan. Raj Bhavan officials said maintaining the old building was difficult. Earlier Governors had, however, not come on board with the idea, the officials said.

Pillai made the announcement at an event held at Raj Bhavan to disburse cheques of financial assistance under discretionary grants. On September 16, the Governor announced financial aid to 71 institutions, including orphanages and old-age homes, and declared that 71 persons would receive financial assistance to undergo dialysis treatment from the Raj Bhavan. The scheme was announced to mark the 71st birthday of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. Five institutions and 10 individuals were handed their cheques on Friday and the remaining would receive theirs as the Governor visits various institutions in Goa starting next week, Raj Bhavan officials said.

On Friday, the Governor, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat and religious leaders Sadguru Brahmeshanandacharya Swami and Archbishop Filipe Neri Ferrao and revenue minister Jennifer Monserrate disbursed the cheques to the institutions and individuals in Raj Bhavan against a banner bearing the face of PM Modi.

Pillai, who earlier served as the President of the BJP in Kerala, recalled incidents that took place when he first became the Governor of Mizoram in 2019. “Almost all English newspapers wrote that day that we cannot allow Mizoram to be a dumping place for Hindu fundamentalist…there was a call for protest on that day,” Pillai said. He, however, said that he met the Congress leader of Opposition in his house and forged a friendship that is valued by both their families.

In January 2019, he said, some groups in Mizoram had boycotted Republic Day celebrations. He said there were placards that said, ‘Hello China, bye-bye India’. “I met our PM when I was going there. PM told me don’t quarrel with them and try to win them over. Through service, they have faith in Raj Bhavan, and it was opened to all…Through that process we are doing godly service,” said Pillai.

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