A ruling against the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) by the Right to Information Commission under the RTI Act has disclosed that a much sought after spectrum telecommunication frequency had recently been allocated to Mobitel (headed by President Maithripala Sirisena’s brother, Kumarasinghe Sirisena) without open competitive bidding and on ‘an administrative decision.’
This has come to light in an appeal filed before the RTI Commission by another competitor for the spectrum frequency, Dialog Axiata.
The RTI Commission directed the TRCSL, chaired by the President’s Secretary Austin Fernando, to reverse its earlier decision not to release the information
The Commission warned that the discretion exercised by TRCSL in such actions was not unfettered but must be exercised ‘in accordance with law and subject to the application of the RTI Act, absent a clearly applicable exemption …which overrides the public interest.’ Following the direction, the TRCSL released the information to the Commission on 3rd April (last Tuesday).
In an earlier ruling, information released by the TRCSL following an Order issued by the Commission regarding the blocking of the Lanka-E-News website indicated that the blocking had taken place after the Office of the President had complained against slanderous reports in the website.
Pointing out that the complaint submitted by the President’s Office on November 6th, 2017 only brings these news reports to the notice of the TRCSL and requests that suitable action be taken according to law, the Commission ruled that the information requested can legitimately be released under the RTI Act and dismissed the TRCSL argument that ‘national security’ and the ‘defence of the State’ required the information to be kept confidential.