Reports reaching Colombo Telegraph from the Legal Division of the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) say that the Army has been questioned at length by the Right to Information (RTI) Commission this Monday regarding its failure to respond to an information request filed by a female legal officer in the SLA holding the rank of captain (name withheld).
The information request was filed regarding a special court inquiry held against a senior officer (name withheld) who had been alleged of sexually harassing the female legal officer.
The legal officer had filed an appeal to the Army Commander as the Designate Officer under the RTI Act saying that an inquiry was held and concluded after her allegations. But she had not been given a copy of the conclusions or other relevant documents. Her colleagues at the Legal Division say that she had asked for the documents on the inquiry and the qualifications of those who had reached the findings. She was not sent a response. Instead, the Information Officer had informed her that requests for information must be submitted through the SLA administratively specified internal procedures.
In the appeal heard before RTI Commissioners Kishali Pinto-Jayawardena, Selvy Thiruchandran and SG Punchihewa, the Army had been informed that it had two options similar to all Public Authorities under the RTI Act. This was to provide the information according to the request or reject the request strictly under grounds specified in the Act.
The Commission had stated that the Act did not give an option to any Public Authority to put forward internal procedures as a reason for refusing or delaying the information and that the Act does not privilege any Public Authority to do so.
Sources at the Legal Division of the SLA informed Colombo Telegraph that the SLA had responded stating that it considered itself bound by the RTI Act and had asked for two weeks time to report back on the information request.