State Chief Information Commissioner gave the order
`Documents maintained by devasthans are public documents'`Devasthans are not established under Devasthan Regulations'
PANAJI: In a landmark ruling delivered here on Monday, the Goa State Information Commission has held that devasthans are public authorities within the meaning of Section 2(h) of the Right to Information(RTI) Act, 2005.
The State Chief Information Commissioner A. Venkataratnam, while looking into a complaint by Guiri S. Pai Raikar of Margao v\s Public Information Officer(PIO), mamlatdar of Ponda taluk in Central Goa, directed the said Mamlatdar to give the information sought by the complainant.
He also directed the Revenue Department of the State, which administers the Devasthan Regulation Act, to declare the PIOs, APIOs in respect of devasthans within a month from the date of the order.
Mr. Venkataratnam delivered a comprehensive order on Monday.
The complainant maintained that devasthans are public authorities and the documents maintained by them are public documents as officers of the Government (mamlatdars and collectors) control the devasthans.
They are bound to give information to him, which was not given forcing him to approach the State Commission.
As per the original complaint, the State Commission was called upon to decide whether copies of audited reports submitted to the Collector in respect of the individual devasthans could be given to the complainant and secondly whether he was entitled to receive the reports of physical verification of devasthan funds. Senior advocate M.S. Usgaonkar, inter alia, argued on behalf of temples that devasthans are not public authorities as contemplated under the RTI Act. The law, namely Devasthan Regulations merely governs the devasthans for their effective performance. They are not established under this law.