Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Right to Information in Sri Lanka

Finally, a Sri Lankan judge makes an excellent proposal. From LBO:
A top Sri Lankan judge has called for laws such as a freedom of information act to enable people greater access to information to create an 'informed public' that is essential for a democratic society.

Justice Saleem Marsoof, President's Counsel and Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka said most democracies now have legislation providing a mechanism through which the public can have access to information.

These include the Freedom of Information Acts of the United States and the United Kingdom and the Right to Information Act of India.[link]
The Right to Information Act(RTI) is one of the best things that happened to Indian democracy. The act allows ordinary citizens, journalist, civil society organizations to request for and obtain information from any public authority within thirty days.

There are of course many shortcomings in implementation. As my favorite Delhi-based think tank, Center for Civil Society, pointed out in their Duty to Publish reports a couple of years ago, there was low compliance levels for the act at state and municipal levels. But some compliance is better than nothing, a RTI act would definitely be a step in the right direction.

Legislation along the lines of RTI is something the peace-obsessed Colombo civil society should push for. It doesn't seem too unfeasible and definitely improves governance.

In related notes, Amit Varma, one of my favorite sources for Indian affairs, has written quite a bit about the RTI, including this piece for the Mint.

1 comment:

Aachcharya said...

Not that the civil society hasnt pressed for it. Continuous pressure from some leading academics (primarily at CPAi think and media personnel lead to a draft RTI bill during Ranil's time. After that it was shelved. It will be banging your head on the wall to put pressure on this Govt for a RTI.