Declaration of Assets: Parliament told to release list of MPs | Daily News

Declaration of Assets: Parliament told to release list of MPs

Following a two-year long hearing, the Right to Information Commission (RTIC) on Tuesday (2) ordered Parliament to release immediately the list of MPs who have handed over their respective Declarations of Assets and Liabilities from 2010 to 2018 and in 2018 alone.

The Commission made this order based on an appeal made to the commission by journalist Chamara Sampath with regard to his RTI request submitted to Parliament seeking the above list, which was refused to be given by both the Information Officer and the Designated Office of this public entity.

Journalist Sampath had made his initial RTI request to the Information Officer of the Parliament on June 21, 2018. It had been responded by the officer refusing to give that information. He had informed that a request has to be made to the Speaker of Parliament in terms of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law (DALL) No 01 of 1975.

Dissatisfied with the response and on the basis that the Appellant is not requesting the contents of the Declarations of Assets and Liabilities but a list of names of the MPs who have submitted their Declarations of Assets and Liabilities, Appellant Chamara Sampath had filed an appeal with the Designed Officer on August 30, 2018. Dissatisfied with the response of this officer also, the Journalist had finally made an appeal to the RTIC on September 11, 2018.

During the hearings, the parties representing the Parliament elaborated that the offices of the Speaker and Secretary General of the Parliament are two separate institutions and therefore, this request should have been made to the Speaker’s office. But, it was revealed that there is no Information Officer available at the Speaker’s Office and instead the administrative affairs of the whole Parliament are functioning through the Secretary General’s Office.

While the Declarations of Assets and Liabilities of the MPs have to be obtained under the provisions of the DALL, the list of MPs who have handed over such declarations should be obtained under the Right to Information Act No.12 of 2016, it was also revealed.

The Appellant had asked only for the List of MPs.

During the hearings the Parliament authorities had argued that in terms of Section 11 of the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law (DALL) No. 01 of 1975, when in conflict with any other given law, the DALL would prevail over such conflicting law.

However, it has been the conclusion of the Commission that the RTI law prevails over the DALL and the information that has been requested is in the high public interest. The 26-page final order of the commission was conveyed to the both parties on Friday (5).