President’s appeal against releasing PM’s Asset Declaration in Court today

Monday, 6 May 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The appeal of the Presidential Secretariat against the order issued by the Right to Information Commission (RTIC) on 4 December 2018 to release the Prime Minister’s asset declaration will be taken up today in the Court of Appeal. 

In its landmark decision in December last year, the RTIC directed the Presidential Secretariat to release the declaration of assets and liabilities of Ranil Wickremesinghe in his role as Prime Minister for 2015 and 2016 pursuant to an RTI application filed by Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL). The Commission in their decision noted that “the RTI Act enables a powerful check to be exercised on even potential corruption as this would deter those otherwise enticed to amass public wealth for themselves”. 

On TISL’s request for access to the Asset Declaration of President Maithripala Sirisena for 2015 and 2016, the RTIC held that the Declaration of Assets and Liabilities Law does not include the position of President. However, the Commission noted that “the increasing trend among Heads of State is to proactively disclose their assets and liabilities to foster a practice of transparency and public accountability”. 

On 28 February, several members of Parliament from across party lines came together to unilaterally make their asset declarations public. This step was applauded by many and recognised as a step towards changing the political culture of the country.