COLOMBO (NewsRadio); The Court of Appeal has ruled that provisions of the Right to Information Act are applicable to the Members of Parliament in respect of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law No. 1 of 1975.
The ruling on the scope of the RTI Act was delivered by a two-member Appeals Court bench consisting of Justices Sampath Abeykoon and P. Kumararatnam.
The determination was issued after an application was filed by the Secretary-General of Parliament who challenged the decision of the Right to Information Commission who had ruled that the information requested by a journalist regarding the names of Members of Parliament who have submitted their assets declarations should be released.
The Appeals Court bench despite the challenge by the Secretary-General of Parliament upheld the decision of the Right to Information Commission.
Court determined that releasing the list of names of Parliamentarians who have submitted their declaration of assets and liabilities as required by law is not disclosing the information they have provided in their respective declarations.
A journalist in a letter dated 21st of June, 2018 requested the Information Officer of Parliament that he be provided with a list of names of Parliamentarians who have submitted their respective assets and liabilities declarations in 2018.
The Information Officer of Parliament however rejected the request on the basis that the individual has to make an application in terms of the Declaration of the Assets and Liabilities Act of Act No.1 of 1975 to the Speaker of House, which is a separate Act that governs the declarations of the Members of Parliament.
The journalist being aggrieved by the decision of the Information Officer then appealed to the Commission in terms of section 32 of the RTI Act, challenging the decision.
The Commission then determined the information must be released to the journalist.
However, the Secretary-General of Parliament filed an application at the Appeals Court to prevent the disclosure of the declarations as determined by the Information Officer Parliament.