After a delay of over two months following initial appointments of three members to the Right to Information (RTI) Commission, the RTI Commission came legally into force today.
President Maithripala Sirisena handed over appointment letters to the two remaining members, retired appellate court judge AW Salam and social justice activist Dr Selvy Thiruchandran this morning.
They will join the three RTI Commissioners, Mahinda Gammanpila (Chair), attorney & prominent RTI advocate Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena and attorney Somapala Punchihewa who were appointed with effect from October 1st 2016. All five appointments were variously on the recommendation of the Constitutional Council on nomination of the Editors Guild/Sri Lanka Newspaper Society/the Sri Lanka Press Institute, the Bar Association of Sri Lanka and other civil society organisations.
The delay was due to individuals ineligible to accept appointment being initially nominated by the Bar and civil society due to which nominations had to be reconsidered afresh by the Constitutional Council.
The RTI Commission is an independent body body tasked with adjudicating complaints under the Act and ensuring compliance with its requirements. The Act states that RTI Regulations must be gazetted by the Minister in consultation with the Commission. Its members have a wide range of powers including the power to inspect any information held by a Public Authority, direct a Public Authority to provide information in a particular form and to directly prosecute offenders in court.
The RTI Act prevails over every other enacted law that is contrary to its provisions of an open information culture including the Official Secrets Act and the Establishments Code.