Lawsuits Challenge Constitutionality of Proposed Sri Lankan RTI Law

7 April 2016

A handful of lawsuits have been filed challenging the constitutionality of the proposed right to information legislation in Sri Lanka.

Under Sri Lankan procedures, the challenges will be heard by the Supreme Court before legislative action proceeds.

The Sri Lankan government presented an RTI bill to parliament in March. (See previous report.) Various amendments have been proposed by provincial councils. (See previous report.)

At least three petitions have been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the bills constitutionality, according to a report in The Sunday Times.

One says the bill is too restrictive about the disclosure of information regarding government economic and trade policies.

The petitioner said the court should require a two-thirds majority of the Parliament for passage and approval of the public through a referendum.

Another petition objects that the proposed Right to Information Commission – with member from nongovernmental organization, the bar, and the media –will have access to sensitive information.

The same petitioner objects to potential restriction on information about trade agreements. A third petitioner also filed objections to the restrictions placed on access to information relating to overseas trade agreements.

The Bar Association of Sri Lanka expressed concern regarding a provision concerning the release of information being deemed as being in contempt of court, according to a Nation story.

The bill was attacked as “phony” by Rohantha De Silva on the World Socialist Web Site.


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