Are the village welfare bodies covered under the RTI Act, 2005?
In Goa, the village welfare bodies set up by the joint owners of the village (Gaunkars) are called as Communidades. During the just-concluded session of the Goa Legislative assembly, the deputy chief minister and revenue minister Francis D'Souza tabled a reply to a question raised by a member. The reply specifically said that the communidades are a public authority as defined under the section 2(h) “public authority” means any authority or body or institution of self-government established or constituted (a) by or under the Constitution; (b) by any other law made by Parliament; (c) by any other law made by State Legislature; (d) by notification issued or order made by the appropriate Government, and includes any- (i) body owned, controlled or substantially financed; (ii) non-Government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate Government; of the RTI Act and hence are covered under it. However, the Communidades are yet to suo-motu disclose information as per the obligation under section 4 of the RTI Act, 2005.
The government is trying to persuade the Communidades to accept the applications filed under the RTI Act but to no avail. The communidades are unwilling to accept that they come under the purview of the RTI Act against the clarification given by the state government. They claim that as they are not government entities, the RTI Act is not applicableto them.