Parrikar cannot sign files fearing secondary infection, says RTI reply

Panaji: Goa Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, currently undergoing treatment for pancreatic cancer in a US hospital, cannot sign government files due to risk of infection, a RTI petitioner said, citing official documents.

City businessman Kenneth Silveira, who obtained the February 28 memo signed by Parrikar through the Right to Information Act, has now filed a complaint with the Goa Police’s Crime Branch claiming signing of government correspondence and notings by Secretaries to the Chief Minister’s Office instead of Parrikar, who is medically unfit to hold office, was illegal, and requesting a probe.

The February 28 memo, released to the media during a press conference here on Saturday, has Parrikar say: “I have been advised by the doctors treating me to avoid physical contact with files for the time being on account of possibility of secondary infection as part of ongoing treatment.

“I have therefore authorised principal secretary to the Chief Minister and in his absence Secretary to the Chief Minister to record my decisions/directions on the government correspondence including files/notes and append his signature for disposal of the same till further orders.”

In his complaint to the Crime Branch, Silveira, who was arrested last month for uploading up a false Facebook post hinting at the Chief Minister’s death, has also said it was illegal for government files to be endorsed by representatives designated by the Chief Minister, especially when the latter was “unfit” to hold office.

“The Crime Branch should probe as to how government business, especially which passes through the CMO can be legally allowed to happen, when the files are not endorsed by Parrikar, but his secretaries,” he told reporters after filing his complaint.

While Crime Branch officials have acknowledged the receipt of the complaint, CMO sources said, that the current arrangement was legal in every way, although of a temporary nature.

“The Secretaries mentioned in the Chief Minister’s note have been authorised by the Chief Minister to sign on government correspondence in his behalf. This is a temporary arrangement only, until Parrikar returns,” a CMO official said, on condition of anonymity.

Parrikar, who was first hospitalised in a local medical facility on February 15 for stomach pain, was rushed to a New York-based health facility last month.

While there is no official confirmation of the severity of his ailment, both from the local BJP unit as well as the CMO, the latter through informal statements released to the media, has maintained that Parrikar is suffering from “mild pancreatitis”.