RTI – Cabinet Approved Draft Bill – 2nd Dec 2015

RTIL.D.O 4/2015 AN ACT TO PROVIDE FOR THE RIGHT OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION; TO SPECIFY GROUNDS ON WHICH ACCESS MAY BE DENIED; TO ESTABLISH THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION COMMISSION; TO APPOINT INFORMATION OFFICERS; TO SET OUT THE PROCEDURE AND FOR MATTERS CONNECTED THEREWITH OR INCIDENTAL THERETO.

Preamble.

WHEREAS the Constitution guarantees the right of access to information in Article 14A thereof and there exists a need to foster a culture of transparency and accountability in public authorities by giving effect to the right of access to information and thereby promote a society in which the people of Sri Lanka would be able to more fully participate in public life through combating corruption and promoting accountability and good governance. BE it therefore enacted by the Parliament of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka as follows :- Short title and date of operation.

  1. This Act may be cited as the Right to Information Act, No. of 2015 and shall come into force on the day immediately following the date of the expiration of a period of six months of the date of certification in terms of Article 79 of the Constitution. Responsibility to ensure effective implementation.
  2. It shall be the responsibility of the Ministry of the Minister assigned the subject of mass media to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act. PART I Application of the provisions of the Act Right of access to information.
  3. Subject to the provisions of section 5 of this Act, every citizen shall have a right of access to information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority. Provisions of this Act to prevail over other written law.
  4. The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other written law and accordingly in the event of any inconsistency or conflict between the provisions of this Act and such other written law, the provisions of this Act shall prevail. PART II Denial of access to information When right of access may be denied.
    1. Subject to the provisions of subsection
    2. a request under this Act for access to information shall be refused, where –
      (a) the information relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information or the person concerned has consented in writing to such disclosure;(b) disclosure of such information –
      (i) would undermine the defence of the State or its territorial integrity or national security;
      (ii) would be or is likely to be seriously prejudicial to Sri Lanka’s relations with any State, or in relation to international agreements or obligations under international law, where such information was given by or obtained in confidence;(c) the disclosure of such information would cause serious prejudice to the economy of Sri Lanka by disclosing prematurely decisions to change or continue government economic or financial policies relating to:-(i) exchange rates or the control of overseas exchange transactions;
      (ii) the regulation of banking or credit;
      (iii) taxation;
      (iv) the stability, control and adjustment of prices of goods and services, rents and other costs and rates of wages, salaries and other income; or
      (v) the entering into of overseas trade agreements;(d) information, including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, protected under the Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the public authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;(e) the information could lead to the disclosure of any medical records relating to any person, unless such person has consented in writing to such disclosure;(f) the information consist of any communication, between a professional and a public authority to whom such professional provides services, which is not permitted to be disclosed under any written law, including any communication between the Attorney General or any officer assisting the Attorney General in the performance of his duties and a public authority;

      (g) the information is required to be kept confidential by reason of the existence of a fiduciary relationship;

      (h) the disclosure of such information would:-
      (i) cause grave prejudice to the prevention or detection of any crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders; or
      (ii) expose the identity of a confidential source of information in relation to law enforcement or national security, to be ascertained;
      (i) subject to the provisions of section 29(2)(c), the information has been supplied in confidence to the public authority concerned by a third party and the third party does not consent to its disclosure;

      (j) the disclosure of such information would be in contempt of court;

      (k) the disclosure of such information would infringe the privileges of Parliament; or

      (l) disclosure of the information would harm the integrity of an examination being conducted by the Department of Examination or a Higher Educational Institution.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), a request for information shall not be refused on any of the grounds referred to therein, other than the grounds referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (c ), (f), (g), (h) and (j) of that subsection, if the information requested for is over ten years old. (3) Any information relating to any overseas trade agreement referred to in subsection (1) (c ) (v) of this section, where the negotiations have not concluded even after a lapse of ten years shall not be disclosed. (4) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), a request for information shall not be refused where the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the harm that would result from its disclosure. (5) An information officer shall seek the advice of the Commission, with regard to an issue connected with the grant of access to any information which is exempted from being disclosed under subsection (1), within fourteen days.

Leave a Reply