KATHMANDU, Aug 21: Five years after the promulgation of Right to Information (RTI) Act-2007, the government is all set to open an RTI Center Tuesday to enable people to exercise their right to be informed.
The National Information Commission (NIC) in coordination with Citizen´s Campaign for RTI (CCRTI) is scheduled to open the center from Tuesday.
Sabita Bhandari Baral, a commissioner at NIC, said the center aims to play proactive roles on promotion and protection of the right to information.
"We have formed a group of law practitioners to inform the public about the importance of RTI. We will file RTI related cases for the public free of cost," said Baral adding "The RTI directs public officials not to fail in their public responsibility to disclose information without adequate reason, but most of the government officials themselves are unaware of the RTI provision."
The government aims to make its officials accountable by providing them training on information dissemination, she said. NIC, which has hardly dealt with around 100 RTI-related cases over the years is expected to see more cases once the center comes into operation. The center is located on NIC premises. Established with support from the UK´s Department for International Development (DfID).
As per the RTI act, it is also the right of every citizen to know what RTI is, but people are still unaware that there is such a law in the country, said Tanka Aryal, executive director of CCRTI. CCRTI plans to hold interactions with local people in different districts and publicize itself through print and broadcasting media, he said.
The act provisions an individual to have access to the public information held in the public bodies irrespective of their governmental or non-governmental status. However, authorities can protect any personal information they possess. The law also authorizes the public body to protect the information directly related to national sovereignty, harmony, crime investigation and trade privacy, said Aryal.
Overruling the RTI act, the prime minister´s office last year had introduced 140 information classifications to protect them from public access. But it could not last long following a Supreme Court order against its implementation.