16 May, 2022

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RTI Commission Releases Information In Majority Of Appeals In 2nd Term, Bribery Commission Blamed By Court For Bad Performance

Sri Lanka’s Right to Information Commission released statistics of its appeals record in the 2nd term (December 2021-January 2022) this week, pointing to information release in 139 appeals out of a total of 147 concluded appeals.

In four appeals, the information requests were rejected on grounds under the Right to Information Act (RTI Act), one appeal was dismissed for failure to comply with the RTI Act.

Two hundred and four hearings were held by the Commission in Colombo, Kandy and Jaffna during the period with fifty seven hearings adjourned for further adjudication, according to the update posted on the commission’s website.

Sinhala version is found here

Tamil version is found here

In an appeal brought by a citizen against Litro Gas Limited (LGLL) asking for information regarding the salaries and allowances paid to its top management, the Commission refused to uphold an objection by lawyers for the company that Litro Gas did not come within the RTI Act.

The company had argued that, though LGLL was a 99.94% owned subsidiary of the Sri Lanka Insurance Corporation (SLIC), it did not constitute a “Public Authority’ as the SLIC did not fall within the meaning of a ‘corporation’ under the RTI Act. However, the Commission took the position that the Secretary to the Treasury holds 99.97% shares of the SLIC and the SLIC holds 99.94% and 100% of LGLL and Litro Gas Terminal Lanka (Pvt) Ltd (LGTLL). Also, that as per the SLIC Annual Report for the year 2020, LGLL was audited by the Auditor General, all of which made LGLL a ‘Public Authority.’

Litro Gas had been in the news recently for irregular management practices resulting in the explosions of domestic gas cylinders, its CEO had been dismissed and then reappointed through a direct intervention by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

Meanwhile, the main Parliamentary Opposition, the Samagi Jana Balaya (SJB) alleged that the Bribery Commission (CIABOC) was not responding to its requests filed under the RTI Act asking for information on the withdrawal of indictments in a number of cases against Government politicians since the change of regime in 2019. MP Mujibur Rahman alleged that CIABOC had only sent the numbers of the relevant cases as a response.

On Tuesday (8th February), the Colombo High Court (HC) Permanent Trial-at-Bar made severe statements against what the Bench termed as ‘inconsistent’ positions taken by CIABOC in cases that it had filed. The Court asked why CIABOC could not act independently without embarrassing witnesses, defendants, and the court. This was in relation to an ongoing trial against Minister of Agriculture Mahindananda Aluthgamage and others for actions when Aluthgamage was a former Sports Minister, when the indictment had been amended.

Since 2019, a spate of indictments against ruling politicians had been withdrawn or amended by the Attorney General and CIABOC with no reasons disclosed publicly as to why they had decided to do so. Following queries by the Colombo Telegraph, CIABOC lawyers claimed that they were bound by an oath of secrecy imposed by the CIABOC Act (1994) which they said, prevented them from releasing information under the RTI Act. Section 4 of the RTI Act however states that the RTI Act (2016) prevails over all previous laws.

The conflict between the RTI Act and the CIABOC Act has yet not been brought before the RTI Commission to decide. Since the appointments of the new Commissioners, President Rajapaksa’s choice of a politicised ex-SC judge Upali Abeyratne as Chairman had resulted in the generally praised RTI Commission being dragged into public controversy. It is learnt that Abeyratne had later stepped down as Chair of the Office of Missing Persons (OMP) following his appointment to the RTI Commission. Media activists pointed to the positive record of the Commission in the recent months as encouraging. Commissioners Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Rohini Walgama and Jagath Liyanarachchi serve as the independent nominees of the Bar, the media and civil society on the body.

During the 1st term of the Commission, RTI Chair and Commissioners Gammampila, Pinto-Jayawardena and Walgama had upheld Section 4 of the RTI Act in other contexts where conflicts emerged. Responding to appeals filed by civil society and citizens to release the assets declarations of politicians, the Commission had ordered the release on the basis that the RTI Act prevailed over the secrecy imposed on declarations of assets by the Declarations of Assets and Liabilities Law (1975).

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Latest comments

  • 8
    0

    The RTI act was established to show our democratic principals but never meant to be enforced, drowned in red tape, apart from trivial cases to show that it is being enforced. The same goes to the Bribery Commissioner, the commissioner being appointed from cronies loyal to the serving regime. Does anyone really believe that any of the politicians or their loyal cronies will ever be charged for bribery? No information, no case, elementary, dear citizens.

    As the saying goes, the dogs bark but the wagons roll. Unless the ‘swamp is drained’ (to quote Trump), nothing changes, a waste of tax payers’ money.

    • 6
      0

      Saw this on youtube comments ……..
      .
      .
      A British doctor says:
      “In Britain, medicine is so advanced
      that we cut off a man’s liver,
      put it in another man,
      and in 6 weeks, he is looking for a job.”..!!!

      The German doctor says:
      “That’s nothing, in Germany we took part of a brain,
      put it in another man,
      and in 4 weeks he is looking for a job.”..!!!

      The Russian doctor says:
      “Gentlemen, we took half a heart from a man,
      put it in another’s chest,
      and in 2 weeks he is looking for a job.”..!!!

      The srilankan doctor laughs:
      “You are all behind us.
      A few years ago, we took a man with no brain, no heart, and no liver
      and made him President.
      Now, the whole country is looking for jobs!!!”

      • 4
        0

        That is a good one for sure.

      • 0
        0

        Dear NF,
        .
        You are spot on !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
        ,.
        “The srilankan doctor laughs:
        “You are all behind us.
        A few years ago, we took a man with no brain, no heart, and no liver
        and made him President.
        Now, the whole country is looking for jobs!!!””

        How stupid our people should be to go for a man whose crime records were not overlooked, …. the man how he stole state funds for building the monuments to their own parents…… how the bugger stood against real war hero ” Mr FM Sarath F”…. and how he put nation s real humanist/right activisit – Ranjan Ramanayaka….. just because those ANIMALS voted for him.
        :
        I dont think, if many would not agree with me, open BEAHDING of Rajapakshes by bringing them to GALLE FACE GREEN.

    • 3
      0

      Raj, nowhere in the democratic world, the right to official information process itself serves the purpose of enforcing law. It is up to the interested parties to file actions against the culprits and cite the RTI documents as evidence. My point however is, establishing RTI, enactment of independent commissions, reduction of Presidential powers and whole lot of other pro-democratic and anti-anarchic outcomes of the 19A that happened under Yahapalanaya were huge strides in regaining democratic rights of lost sovereignty and the rights of common people in SL. It was with quite despair and sorrow most good people saw it collapsing attacked by the powerful fake propaganda machinery of Rajapaksha gang in full action with hoax, sham fabricated stories. Even more frustrating and disgusting was the leaders of Yahapalanaya did not do any plausible attempt to counter attack these fake propaganda.

  • 6
    0

    Raj, currently in SHAM Lanka there is flurry of political prisoners released on bail closer to Geneva Session. At the same time , all Rajapaksas and their cronies are found innocent by courts. The whistle blower of recent food scam is restricted from leaving the country.. People like Kishali .J are appointed to give some international credibility but inturn made toothless by government appointed judiciary. By using RTI the victims will be further victimized so that Rajapaksas can continue with their crimes. The newest trend is to refer all graft/corruption to bribery commission, so that they can be laundered to squeaky clean. When politician Ranjith threatened to go to Vatican , the caretaker ( Criminal SW was so sure until yesterday) was released of all charges and replaced by some retired doctor as accuse.

  • 5
    1

    People request RTI for real facts pertaining to public interest and if needed take action, If that is not possible due to government appointed judiciary and AG department, why waste money. What is the outcome / success rate of RTI and Bribery commission upto now a big ZERO out of thousands filed. Just like Lankan economy .

  • 2
    0

    All Commissions most prominently CIABOC & HRCSL commissioned in Srilanka are just a facade to fool the world or the Presidential Commissions to intimidate the political foes of the government in power at the time. The Commission Members abuse their positions to shield their culpable friends. They are pasture lands for sacred cows as a dust cover.

  • 3
    0

    Every single thing from state finances to RTI to Bribery is a big sham. Unless and until we resolve these issues and kick those who are not following the law of the land out this will continue.

  • 3
    0

    It’s not only the Bribery Commission it’s also the Attorney General who is not honest. I wonder why the present Chief Justice who filed most of the “Nidoskota Nidahas” cases when he was the AG has not challenged the present “Nidoskota Nidahas”-AG’s actions? Are both of them slaves of Rajapakses?

    • 0
      0

      B1/.
      .
      Sl s lawyer community is said to be over 15000 or so if my info are correct but not even 10% of them seem to react right even if injustices continue. .
      .
      .if this would have been the case in a civilised world /Mahinda should be wearing jumpers today/ saddest reality is other way around/ they instead hurt the wounds of the people as the buggers have no hearts/ .
      I also dont think people are innocient/ not at all they should change their attitudes with a paradigm shift. .
      .🐃🐃🐃🐃🐕🐕🐕😌😌😌😌😌

  • 2
    0

    Sarath N. Silva as Chief Justice left behind a terrible legacy by bringing courts of law down to the level of gutters which has been upheld enthusiastically by those who succeeded him. This country is devoid of men or women of integrity.

    • 1
      0

      HP/
      If any govt resulted some damages / that should have been corrected by the succeeded govts. That never happened since Medamulana animals took the weapons.
      .
      They made it worst by fooling the stupid majority again and again. People too let them rape being total ignorat to their blatant lies/ consequences are seen today even little ones would nt agree but medamulana mlechcha men destroyed almost everything to the core . .
      ..
      State was continuously looted by criminal Rajapakshes and they became wealthier year to year /now Namal Baby to search for purchasing properties also in Kenya during his recent trip revealed all their shameless behaviours. .
      .
      Media mafia kept the majority in dark because they worked for the hidden agendas of the rascals. Mahinda Rajapakshe should be punished for all the mess. .
      .Not just vicious politicians but media mafia to be blamed for the entire mess.
      .today almost anyone with some sanity would wait patiently unter real Karma takes Rajapakshes away from the sights. 🤨🤨🤨🤨🤨🤨🤨

    • 1
      0

      H
      Remember who let him off the hook in a matter of serious misconduct?
      I will give anyone just one guess if he/she does not suffer selective amnesia.

  • 0
    0

    HP/
    If any govt resulted some damages / that should have been corrected by the succeeded govts. That never happened since Medamulana animals took the weapons.
    .
    They made it worst by fooling the stupid majority again and again. People too let them rape being total ignorat to their blatant lies/ consequences are seen today even little ones would nt agree but medamulana mlechcha men destroyed almost everything to the core . .
    ..
    State was continuously looted by criminal Rajapakshes and they became wealthier year to year /now Namal Baby to search for purchasing properties also in Kenya during his recent trip revealed all their shameless behaviours. .
    .
    Media mafia kept the majority in dark because they worked for the hidden agendas of the rascals. Mahinda Rajapakshe should be punished for all the mess. .
    .Not just vicious politicians but media mafia to be blamed for the entire mess.
    .today almost anyone with some sanity would wait patiently unter real Karma takes Rajapakshes away from the sights. 🤨🤨🤨🤨🤨🤨🤨

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