The draft Freedom of Information Act providing for the freedom of access to official information is ready. Justice and Legal Reforms Minister Milinda Moragoda is expected to hand over the draft of the proposed Right to Information Bill to the government in the next few days.
Quoting the Minister, the Sunday Times said that the proposed law, initially based on the draft 2004 Freedom of Information Bill has been improved on the lines of the 2005 Indian Right to Information Act.
The proposed law is aimed at granting every citizen “a right of access to official information which is in the possession, custody or control of a public authority”.
A public authority is defined as a ministry, government department, public corporation, a private company where the state has a majority shareholding, local authorities etc.
The law, however, exempts access to information relating to the private medical records of individuals, trade secrets that would harm the commercial interests of persons, where the disclosure can cause prejudice to the prevention of crime and law enforcement, information relating to examinations conducted by the Department of Examinations and the like. Under the proposed law, a Freedom of Information Commission will be created to monitor the implementation of the law, and Information Officers appointed to each of these ‘public authorities’ to provide the required information to the general public.