The Right to Information (RTI) cannot be used to elicit information on public figures though some people asked for the details of the assets declared by the public figures under the RTI. “Only public offices are governed by the RTI law, not public figures,” Deputy Media Minister K. Paranavithana told the Sunday Observer. The Deputy Media Minister said, “There is validity in requesting such information but our Asset Declaration (and Liabilities) Law is very weak and priority should be to strengthen the Asset Declaration and Liabilities Law.”
He said the officials are required to declare their assets when running for public office, etc but there are no provisions to publish such information.
The Deputy Minister said the RTI law was a major achievement in the area of public empowerment and the next priority should be to strengthen the Asset Declaration and Liabilities Law.
To mark the first day of the RTI Act enforcement on February 3, the TISL applied for details of asset declarations of President and the PM. The two authorities which hold the details of their assets are the Elections Commission and the Parliament.
In seeking this information the TISL said, “This will provide the two highest offices of the country an opportunity to show leadership in ensuring the need for RTI Act compliance.”It further said, “Under the framework of RTI the information they have sought needs to be released within a maximum of 28 days. Therefore by early March we will be able to assess the commitment of both the President and Prime Minister on the same.”
The Deputy Minister said the Media Ministry took the leadership to enact RTI law, despite it not being something under its direct purview. Therefore they will not hesitate to give leadership to amending the Asset Declaration and Liabilities Act as well.