RIGHT TO INFORMATION ACT

1. Short title and date of operation.

2. Responsibility to ensure effective implementation.

PART I

APPLICATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT

3. Right of access to information.

4. Provisions of this Act to prevail over other written law.

PART II

DENIAL OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION

5. When right of access may be denied.

6. Severability under certain circumstances.

PART III

DUTIES OF MINISTERS AND PUBLIC AUTHORITIES

7. Public authorities to maintain and preserve its records.

8. Ministers duty to publish a report.

9. Duty of the Minister to inform public about the initiation of projects.

10. Duty of public authorities to submit reports etc.

PART IV

ESTABLISHMENT OF THE RIGHT TO INFORMATION COMMISSION

11. Establishment of the right to Information Commission.

12. Constitution of the Commission.

13. Appointment of officers and employees of the Commission.

14. Duties and functions of the Commission.

15. Powers of the Commission.

16. Fund of the Commission.

17. Financial year and audit of accounts.

18. Part II of the Finance Act, No. 38 of 1971 to apply.

19. Members etc, of the Commission deemed to be public servants.

20. Application of the Bribery Act.

21. Expenses incurred in any suit or prosecution.

22. Procedural requirements to be published.

PART V

APPOINTMENT OF INFORMATION OFFICERS AND PROCEDURE FOR GAINING
ACCESS TO INFORMATION

23. Appointment of Information officers and designated officers.

24. Procedure for obtaining information.

25. Decision on requests submitted under section 24.

26. Public authority to display details of information officers and fees to be charged.

27. Manner in which information is to be provided.

28. Refusal of a request to be communicated.

29. Where information requested for was supplied by a third party.

30. Exemption from suit or prosecution.

PART VI

APPEALS AGAINST REJECTIONS

31. Appeals against a rejection of a request.

32. Appeals to the Commission.

33. Appeal may be made on behalf of an aggrieved party.

34. Appeals to the Court of Appeal.

PART VII

GENERAL

35. Duty to disclose reasons for a decision.

36. Nothing in this Act to prevent or discourage information from being published.

37. Commission to prepare a report of its activities.

38. Commission to inform the appropriate disciplinary authority.

39. Offences.

40. Release or disclosure of information by an employee of a public authority.

41. Regulations.

42. Rules.

43. Interpretation.

44. Sinhala text to prevail in case of inconsistency.

SCHEDULE

12 of 2016.

An act to provide for the right of access to information; to specify grounds on which access may be denied; to establish the right to information commission; to appoint information officers; to set out the procedure and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

[Date of Commencement: 4th August, 2016 (Part IV, sections 1, 23, 36, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44)]

1. Short title and date of operation.

(1) This Act may be cited as the Right to Information Act.

(2) The provisions of this section, Part IV, sections 23, 36, 40, 41, 42, 43 and 44 shall come into operation on the date on which the certificate is endorsed in respect of this Act in terms of Article 79 of the Constitution.

(3) The provisions of all other sections of this Act, shall come into operation in respect of such public authorities or categories of public authorities and on such dates as may be prescribed by the Minister by Order published in the Gazette:

Provided however, that the dates so prescribed shall be at least six months after the certification referred to in subsection (2) above, and that all provisions of this Act shall be applicable to all public authorities no later than one year of such certification.

2. Responsibility to ensure effective implementation.

It shall be the responsibility of the Ministry of the Minister assigned the subject of mass media to ensure the effective implementation of the provisions of this Act.

PART I

APPLICATION OF THE PROVISIONS OF THE ACT

3. Right of access to information.

(1) Subject to the provisions of section 5 of this Act, every citizen shall have a right of access to information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority.

(2) The provisions of this Act, shall not be in derogation of the powers, privileges and practices of Parliament.

4. Provisions of this Act to prevail over other written law.

The provisions of this Act shall have effect notwithstanding anything to the contrary in any other written law and accordingly in the event of any inconsistency or conflict between the provisions of this Act and such other written law, the provisions of this Act shall prevail.

PART II

DENIAL OF ACCESS TO INFORMATION

5. When right of access may be denied.

(1) Subject to the provisions of subsection (2) a request under this Act for access to information shall be refused, where—

(a) the information relates to personal information the disclosure of which has no relationship to any public activity or interest, or which would cause unwarranted invasion of the privacy of the individual unless the larger public interest justifies the disclosure of such information or the person concerned has consented in writing to such disclosure;

(b) disclosure of such information—

(i) would undermine the defence of the State or its territorial integrity or national security;

(ii) would be or is likely to be seriously prejudicial to Sri Lanka’s relations with any State, or in relation to international agreements or obligations under international law, where such information was given by or obtained in confidence;

(c) the disclosure of such information would cause serious prejudice to the economy of Sri Lanka by disclosing prematurely decisions to change or continue government economic or financial policies relating to—

(i) exchange rates or the control of overseas exchange transactions;

(ii) the regulation of banking or credit;

(iii) taxation;

(iv) the stability, control and adjustment of prices of goods and services, rents and other costs and rates of wages, salaries and other income; or

(v) the entering into of overseas trade agreements;

(d) information, including commercial confidence, trade secrets or intellectual property, protected under the Intellectual Property Act, No. 36 of 2003, the disclosure of which would harm the competitive position of a third party, unless the public authority is satisfied that larger public interest warrants the disclosure of such information;

(e) the information could lead to the disclosure of any medical records relating to any person, unless such person has consented in writing to such disclosure;

(f) the information consist of any communication, between a professional and a public authority to whom such professional provides services, which is not permitted to be disclosed under any written law, including any communication between the Attorney General or any officer assisting the Attorney General in the performance of his duties and a public authority;

(g) the information is required to be kept confidential by reason of the existence of a fiduciary relationship;

(h) the disclosure of such information would—

(i) cause grave prejudice to the prevention or detection of any crime or the apprehension or prosecution of offenders; or

(ii) expose the identity of a confidential source of information in relation to law enforcement or national security, to be ascertained;

(i) subject to the provisions of section 29(2)(c), the information has been supplied in confidence to the public authority concerned by a third party and the third party does not consent to its disclosure;

(j) the disclosure of such information would be in contempt of court or prejudicial to the maintenance of the authority and impartiality of the judiciary;

(k) the disclosure of such information would infringe the privileges of Parliament or of a Provincial Council as provided by Law;

(l) disclosure of the information would harm the integrity of an examination being conducted by the Department of Examination or a Higher Educational Institution;

(m) the information is of a cabinet memorandum in relation to which a decision has not been taken; or

(n) the information relates to an election conducted by the Commissioner of Elections which is required by the relevant election laws to be kept confidential.

(2) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), a request for information shall not be refused on any of the grounds referred to therein, other than the grounds referred to in paragraphs (a), (b), (d), (e), (f), (g), (h) and (j) of that subsection, if the information requested for is over ten years old.

(3) Any information relating to any overseas trade agreement referred to in subsection (1)(c)(v) of this section, where the negotiations have not concluded even after a lapse of ten years shall not be disclosed.

(4) Notwithstanding the provisions of subsection (1), a request for information shall not be refused where the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the harm that would result from its disclosure.

(5) An information officer may seek the advice of the Commission, with regard to an issue connected with the grant of access to any information which is exempted from being disclosed under subsection (1), and the commission may as expeditiously as possible and in any event give its advice within fourteen days.

6. Severability under certain circumstances.

Where a request for information is refused on any of the grounds referred to in section 5, access shall nevertheless be given to that part of any record or document which contains any information that is not exempted from being disclosed under that section, and which can reasonably be severed from any part that contains information exempted from being disclosed.

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