The Right to Information Commission (RTIC) has ordered the Parliament of Sri Lanka to release the name list of Members of Parliament who have submitted their declarations of assets and liabilities.
After considering an appeal against the rejection of a request for information made to the Parliament under the Freedom of Information Act, the RTIC has issued this order on the 3rd of this month (03-02-2021). It is also noteworthy that it took more than 2 years for the process of this appeal.
On 21.06.2018, Journalist Chamara Sampath had requested the Parliament to submit separately the name lists of MPs who submitted their declarations of assets and liabilities for the year 2018 and also for the year 2010 to present.
The Information Officer of Parliament refused to provide the information mentioning that he cannot provide the requested information and that the request should be forwarded to the Speaker in accordance with the Assets and Liabilities Act.
The same journalist had appealed to the nominated official in the Parliament regarding this and that appeal had been rejected again to provide information citing the same fact mentioned above.
Therefore, on 11.09.2018, the journalist had compiled an appeal again to the RIC in this regard.
The journalist had appealed to the RTI Commission to issue an order to Parliament requesting the name list of MPs whose assets and liabilities have been paid within the relevant period and not the declaration of assets and liabilities of the MPs.
If the information requested under Section 3 (1) of the Right to Information Act is in the “possession, charge or control” of the Public Authority, the Information Commission has required the Public Authority to release the information subject to the exceptions set out in Section 5 (1) of the Act.
Announcing its decision, the RTI Commission had unscientifically concluded that the Parliament of Sri Lanka already had this requested information.
Accordingly, the RTI Commission has ordered the Parliament to provide the information requested by the journalist who compiled the appeal.
The Right to RTI Commission has stated that it took more than two years to issue this order due to the fact that the then Presidential Secretariat had to wait until the conclusion of the petition filed before the Court of Appeal against an earlier order of the Commission to disclose the assets and liabilities of the Prime Minister who was in position at that time.
However, the RTI Commission further stated in its 26-page judgment that the order was issued after more than two years and three months had elapsed since the appeal.
The decision issued by the Right to Information Commission on February 03, Chamara Sampath vs. the Parliament of Sri Lanka has issued RTIC Appeal No. 719/2019.