The Court of Appeal of Sri Lanka has ruled that the provisions of the Right to Information (RTI) Act are relevant to parliamentarians as well and that they are legally bound to declare their assets and liabilities.
This ruling was delivered by an Appeals Court judge bench consisting of Sampath Abeykoon and P. Kumaran Ratnam, upholding a decree by the RTI Commission that had directed the Secretary General of Parliament to publicize a list of parliamentarians who have submitted declarations on their assets and liabilities.
Stressing the fact that lawmakers are representatives appointed by the members of the public, Appeals Court Judge Sampath Abeykoon mentioned that the provisions of the RTI Act are applicable to them as well.
The Appeals Court ruling notes that parliamentarians are legally bound to declare their assets and liabilities, as they are maintained by the public.
Judge Abeykoon explained that failing to abide by this is an unlawful act, punishable by a prison sentence not exceeding one year, or a fine no less than Rs. 1,000, or both.
On June 21, 2021, journalist Chamara Sampath, directing a letter to the Secretary General of Parliament, had sought a list of parliamentarians who have declared their assets and liabilities.
He later filed a complaint with the RTI Commission after the Secretary General of Parliament rejected his request.
After probing the matter, the RTI Commission had ordered the Information Officer of Parliament to provide the information requested by the said journalist.
However, the Secretary General of Parliament filed a petition before the Appeals Court, challenging the RTI Commission’s order.
Following a lengthy trial, the Appeals Court judge bench ruled that the particulars mentioned on the petition are baseless.
Accordingly, the judge bench, backing the order given by the RTI Commission on February 02, 2021, dismissed the petition put forward by the Secretary General of Parliament. – ada derana