Software engineers challenge Right to Information Bill in SC

Friday, 1 April 2016 01:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

By S. S. Selvanayagam

 Two software engineers have filed a petition challenging certain clauses in the ‘Right to Information Bill.’

 B. G. Indika Gamage and G. I. Buddhika Sirinimal, President and Assistant Secretary respectively of the Sri Lanka IT Professionals Association, filed their petition seeking the Supreme Court’s Special Determination. They state that the Bill titled the ‘Right to Information Bill’ was placed on the Order Paper of Parliament on or about March 24.

 They allege that clause 5(1)(c)(v) and clause 5(3) of the aforesaid Bill are in contravention of the protection afforded to IT professionals in Articles 12(1) – namely the Right to Equality – and 14(1)(g) – namely the right to the freedom to engage in lawful occupation, profession, trade, business or enterprise Guaranteed by the Constitution.

Clause 5(1) ( c)(v) reads as subject to the provisions of subsection (a) a request under this Act for access to information shall be refused where the disclosure of such information would cause serious prejudice to the economy of Sri Lanka by disclosing prematurely decisions to change or continue government economic or financial policies relating to the entering into of overseas trade agreements.

 The Clause 5(3) reads as Any information relating to any overseas trade agreement referred to in subsection (1) (c )(v) of this section where the negotiations have not been concluded even after a lapse of ten years shall not be disclosed.

 The two software engineers contend that the aforesaid clauses of the Bill are unconstitutional and can only be enacted as provided in Article 83 of the Constitution.